The closest supernova observed in 25 years is getting brighter

Illustration for article titled The closest supernova observed in 25 years is getting brighter

Three days ago, a white dwarf went supernova in nearby Galaxy M82. A starburst galaxy, M82 is a popular target for telescopes on account of its brightness. But its newly formed supernova, which astronomers have named SN 2014J, just became the brightest object in all the galaxy – and it's only going to get brighter.


This photograph, which was captured by astrophotographer and astronomy educator Adam Block, was taken on January 23rd. A flourishing star-factory just 12-million light years away, M82 is positively brimming with celestial light, and roughly five times more luminous than our own Milky Way. But SN 2014J blazes boldly, clearly visible amidst the starry milieu. And here's the awesome part: By some estimates, this Type Ia supernova is still TWO WEEKS away from achieving peak brightness.

This thing is already visible in the night sky through a small telescope. We can't wait to see what it looks like come February.

We've written about Block's astrophotography previously here and here. For more of his work, check out his galleries on his website and at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter.


[Adam Block via NASA APOD]


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Someone help me out here, if we only saw it 3 days ago and it's 12 million light years away, does this mean that, assuming it keeps expanding, it'd only get here in 12 million years (I realise it's practically impossible for it to keep expanding this far, but fears exist in a realm devoid of logic)?

Or is the time we see it not an accurate measure of the speed it reaches us?