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Set your date with a rare exploding supernova

Posted on Jan 26 2014 | IANS

London, Jan 26 : If your are a stargazer, rush to the nearest telescope, or reach for a binocular, to witness a rare supernova explosion - believed to be closest to earth in 150 years.

In a thrilling discovery, a professor and his students at the University College London's teaching observatory have stumbled upon a new bright supernova at a mere 11.4 million light-years from earth - like next door in your neighbourhood in cosmic terms.

Called "SN2014J" and located in the galaxy M82, the supernova is not visible to the naked eye but via telescopes or even binoculars, said media reports.

It is expected to increase in brightness in next two weeks.

A supernova is an explosion of a massive super-giant star. It may shine with the brightness of 10 billion suns.

The discovery, however, was not planned.

"The clouds were rapidly increasing. So instead of the planned practical astronomy class, I gave the students an introductory demonstration of how to use the CCD camera on one of the observatory's automated 0.35-metre telescopes," professor Steve Fossey was quoted as saying on

M82 was chosen as a target and it was while adjusting the telescope that Fossey noticed a star that appeared overlaid on the galaxy.

The explosion occurred nearly 12 million years ago in M82 and is being witnessed now because of the time light takes to reach our galaxy, added the reports.

The M82 galaxy has a brightness which is around 100 times more than the Milky Way - the galaxy containing our solar system.

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