Here's the youngest known supernova in our galaxy, a mere 140 years old. The unassumingly named G1.9+0.3 is at least 200 years younger than the previous youngest known supernova, and it grew by 16 percent over just the last 22 years. NASA's Chandra Observatory was able to confirm North Carolina State University astrophysicist Stephen Reynolds' suspicion that this was a new supernova. But there's just one problem: NASA officials admitted in a teleconference: our galaxy is still missing about 50 supernovas. Who took them?
So far NASA has only identified ten recent supernovas in our galaxy, including G1.9+0.3. There should be about 60 of them, going by other spiral galaxies of our type. There are still some "small, bright objects" that we could investigate, NASA scientists said. But there are two unsettling explanations for the relative scarcity of recent supernovas:
1) Either our galaxy is different than other spiral galaxies and has a lower supernova count than others. (And who knows what other anomalies this could point up?)
2) Young supernovas can look different than we were anticipating. The more young supernovas we discover in our own galaxy, the more idea we'll have about their actual diversity.
The NASA conference call was mostly civil, except for one guy who broke in on the line in a frenzy of pound-sign pressing, and then yelled: "Hi I want to talk to you guys!! I wanna talk, let's talk about your consortium with China!" The operator hurried him off the line, and then the call ended. Thinking they'd already been disconnected, one of the NASA scientists remarked: "Apart from a couple of loonies, I think that went quite well."