Researchers at Princeton University got one hell of a treat this past January when a star exploded in the galaxy NGC2770. It's a 100 million light years from Earth, but it marks the first time astronomers have gotten the chance to watch a star explode 'live' from start to finish (well the explosion happened 100 million years ago, but you know what we mean). Witnessing the event caused the lead author to utter the best quote we've ever seen from an astronomer.
From yesterday's Associated Press article, which described how NASA's Swift satellite caught the explosion on tape:
On Jan. 9, astronomers used a NASA X-ray satellite to spy on a star already well into its death throes, when another star in the same galaxy started to explode. The outburst was 100 billion times brighter than Earth's sun. The scientists were able to get several ground-based telescopes to join in the early viewing and the first results were published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
"A star exploded right before my eyes," lead author Alicia Soderberg, an astrophysics researcher at Princeton University, said Wednesday in a teleconference (emphasis ours).
She likened it to "winning the astronomy lottery. We caught the whole thing from start-to-finish on tape."
Source: Associated Press