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New Supernova in Messier 101


PaulB
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This has come through courtesy of the SPA.

SUPERNOVA IN M101

By Robin Scagell

British astronomers have announced the discovery of a supernova in

galaxy M101, which they claim is the nearest supernova of its type for

more than 40 years. The object was discovered at magnitude 17, but

it appears to be rising in brightness, and the team says that it could

become as bright as magnitude 10 within the next few days. That

would bring it well within the reach of small telescopes and even

large binoculars. Amateur astronomers with suitable instruments

should already be able to photograph the supernova, which has the

name PTF11kly. Its position is RA 14:03:05.81, Dec +54:16:25.4.

M101 is currently well placed for observation; it is in Ursa Major,

not far from the well-known stars Mizar and Alkaid/Benetnasch in the

Plough.

The supernova was first seen on August 24 at around 8 pm BST,

within the spiral arms of M101. An image taken the previous night

had shown no such object in that position. The discovery was made

from Palomar with the 48-inch Schmidt telescope, which is now operated

robotically by a team of British and American astronomers known as

the Palomar Transient Factory. The object's spectrum shows that it

appears to be a Type 1a supernova, which occurs when a white-dwarf

star in a binary system explodes.

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I'm intrigued by the idea of these astronomers operating the telescope robotically. Does that mean they walk around with stiff arms and legs and talk in a monotone?

The Met office alleges some possibility of one or more clear nights this weekend in the south-west though, so it might well be worth hunting for if it's getting a little brighter. I have heard scurrilous rumours that they sometimes get it wrong, mind.

James

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Last measurements I have seen indicate magnitude 13.8 visually. In theory I should already be able to see it. Given a 3 Magnitude jump in less than 2 days, and confirmation it is a Type Ia supernova, it could well reach mag 10 shortly:headbang:

Wow, I hope it does get to mag 10.

That would mean I might even be able to see it with my scope.

From my location, I would not be able to see the galaxy because of the light pollution so I would just see a lone SN.

Exiting stuff :rolleyes:

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Looks like Ill have to take out my 48 inch Schmidt telescope this weekend.... or come back to reality and wait until its Mag 10 with my 6" scope:)

It should be within range of a 6" really soon if not now. A 6" scope has about 13.4-13.6 magnitude theoretical limit, depending on type, and sn2011fe (as it is now designated) was 13.8 several hours ago (about 16?). At a rate of increase of more than 1 mag per day it should be visible now.

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I can image 13 to 14th magnitude stars with my 4 inch telephoto lens and Nikon camera. But I have never obtained a satisfactory image of M101 from light-polluted Hagerstown, MD. USA. I can barely see the spiral structure against the background light, but the contrast is almost non-existant. I may try to see if I can capture the SN !

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I can image 13 to 14th magnitude stars with my 4 inch telephoto lens and Nikon camera. But I have never obtained a satisfactory image of M101 from light-polluted Hagerstown, MD. USA. I can barely see the spiral structure against the background light, but the contrast is almost non-existant. I may try to see if I can capture the SN !

Should be within range then, best of luck!

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If it gets to mag 10 that would be something !.

I did manage to pick up the recent SN in M51 with a 6" scope - I think it was around mag 12.8 then. Pretty pleased with that from my back garden :rolleyes:

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I have been looking forword to having a look for this one. But the weather forcast for my area seems to be wrong and I've got a sky full of cloud :rolleyes:.

Same here (North Somerset) if it's any consolation ;).

Look at it this way - it gives the SN more time to brighten up :)

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... Plenty of time for that to go awry yet though :(

It's just gone awry here in North Somerset James :)

It was looking superb around an hour ago too !.

Maybe it will clear again later - the cloud does not look too thick (wishful thinking perhaps :))

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Same here :(

I'd just gone out to see if I could catch the ISS pass this evening, but missed it, probably due to poor visibility close to the southern horizon. Instead I came in to dress more appropriately for the weather and by the time I came out a big chunk of cloud had rolled in from the north and obscured everything.

I've also discovered that the scaffolding erected on the south-west side of the house on Friday (we're having 4kW of solar panels installed this week) completely obscures Ursa Major from the patio meaning I'll need to lug all my kit into the field to see it. I don't mind doing that, but it's a lot easier to navigate the trees in daylight.

Oh, and someone to the north is clearly having some sort of party with a light show :)

I'll give it another half hour I think and abandon hope then if it hasn't improved. I need to pick up some 28mm copper tube from Wickes tomorrow morning so I can complete some plumbing, so perhaps it's Nature's way of telling me I need to concentrate on finishing the new bathroom :)

James

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I managed to get a good luck last night. Its an easy mag 12.5 in my 10 inch dob.

At high power x200 there is a star on one side of the M101 core. The SN is directly opposite but about four times as far away from the core as the other star.

The SN has a fainter star ahead of it (to the west) and one behind it at PA 45.

I will check I have the right star! by going back again on the next clear night!

Mark

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I managed to get a good luck last night. Its an easy mag 12.5 in my 10 inch dob.

At high power x200 there is a star on one side of the M101 core. The SN is directly opposite but about four times as far away from the core as the other star.

The SN has a fainter star ahead of it (to the west) and one behind it at PA 45.

I will check I have the right star! by going back again on the next clear night!

Mark

Well done. I did not get it yesterday (though I did pick up something south of the core which I could not quite place in Stellarium) because the clouds rushed in before it was fully dark. Will try again as soon as the weather permits.

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Request via BAA:

The BAA has received the following request from members of the Palomar

Transient Factory (PTF) following their discovery of the supernova 2011fe

in M101.

The PTF team is requesting help from people who observed the galaxy M101

between the dates August 22 and August 24, 2011. We have discovered a new

SN in M101 (PTF11kly / SN 2011fe) in this galaxy on August 24, and images

of the galaxy recorded during these nights may help establish the exact time

of the SN explosion and its early evolution. People who may have useful data

are encouraged to contact us by sending an email to ptf11kly@gmail.com.

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