A Distant Galaxy Explodes with Light

Illustration for article titled A Distant Galaxy Explodes with Light

Captured by the W. M. Keck Observatory, this is an image of a distant galaxy hosting one of the brightest supernovae ever observed.


Image Credit: Adrian Malec and Marie Martig (Swinburne University)

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Not only that, but it is a rare Type 1A supernova, caused when a white dwarf in a binary system absorbs matter from its partner, reaches a critical mass and explodes. The absolute brightness of this process is known, so these events are important "standard candles" that allow astronomers to measure cosmic distances.