Another stunning M95 supernova pic, and the star that blew up may have been found!

Adam Block of the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter took what may be the loveliest photo yet of the new supernova SN2012aw in the nearby spiral galaxy M95. It clearly shows the explosion as a blue star, the brightest single thing in the galaxy. Imagine: a single star, exploding with such violence it outshines an entire galaxy with billions of other stars!

And the identity of that star may now be known: combing through older Hubble images, astronomers found a red supergiant sitting right where the progenitor should be. That's almost certainly the culprit, and that means we have a picture taken of it just a few years before it would tear itself apart in one of the biggest explosions in the Universe.


[Image credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona]
Pamela L. Gay's profile photoRandy Hilarski's profile photoCassie Duncan's profile photoPhil Allen's profile photo
it's beautiful and so perfect.
+Philip Plait Well I guess another Red Dwarf to observe from now on :P

Correction: It would be a white Dwarf if any and I bypassed the "supernova", which would leave a nice nebula
What magnitude is the supernova
How long will the supernova be as bright as it is now? Will we be able to image the resulting nebula?
I think stars massive enough to explode as Type II supernovae usually are too big to leave a white dwarf remnant. I would expect a neutron star.
Actually, 8 solar masses is the bare minimum for a Type II supernova (with less then that we get planetary nebulae that are also very cool). Stars between 8-20 solar masses (prior to the supernova event) become neutron stars, above that - blackholes.

I think you are confused with the Chandrasekhar limit which is 1.4 solar masses but this is for an already compact star (the mass of a white dwarf).

As far as I know, we do not have conclusive evidence on the existence of quark stars.
Beautiful. Reminds me of the images of how the Milky Way is supposed to be according to the latest info, specially the central bar.
There should be an album of pics like this with the before and after. Not so much before they were stars but at least before they were famous :)
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