In January a new supernova was spotted in the M82 galaxy – dubbed SN2014J is one of the closest supernovae to occur in the last couple of decades while active observation has been in effect. It is though to be a type Ia Supernova, formed when one of a pair of stars collapses into a white dwarf star which then accumulates material from its partner until enough materials has passed to the dwarf star for it to collapse in on itself – SN2014J is the closest type Ia supernova to occur since SN1972E whose observation forms much of the basis of understanding of type Ia supernovae.
NASA’s Spitzer infrared spectrum telescope took the main image on this article, comparing previous observation from 2005 to recent observations in the early-to-middle part of last month – although SN2014J peaked in intensity around January 31st.
Hubble also managed to get this snapshot of the new supernova, imaging M82 and SN2014J in the visible spectrum proving why Spitzer is such a great instrument with the view of M82 obscured by large wide bands of interstellar dust. Unfortunately this dust reduces the brightness of SN2014J by up to a point of magnitude so further observations are unlikely to be too helpful in defining the behaviour of Type 1a novae – but archive images from Hubble are being searched to see exactly what kind of stars formed SN2014J.
Images: NASA/JPL SST,HST.