In the most epic time lapse you’ll see today, NASA’s Hubble Telescope has captured the explosion and disappearance of a star 70 million light years away.
Space lovers, you’ll want your glasses cleaned for this one. A program at the Hubble Space Telescope has captured “nature’s own atomic bomb” in a time lapse spanning a whole year.
The time lapse was put together as part of a program by NASA and the European Space Agency measuring the expansion rate of our universe. While supernovas occur at a rate of roughly one per second, it is extremely rare to capture footage of stars visibly dying. Who needs that kind of morbid reality check, anyway?
The telescope began observing the white dwarf star in spiral galaxy NGC 2525, 70 million light years away from earth, after astronomer Koichi Itagaki realised it was reaching the point of supernova in January 2018.
The time lapse took one year to capture the violent eruption, a celestial event which put out as much energy as our sun does over a few billion years.
Supernovas don’t just serve as fireworks for us to contemplate our complete and utter insignificance to, but also serve as measures of how far away we are from other galaxies. It’s a crucial measurement for understanding the expansion of space, as explained by NASA in a press release:
“Knowing the actual brightness of the supernova and observing its brightness in the sky, astronomers can calculate the distances of their host galaxies… The titanic explosion, which briefly outshined the entire host galaxy, originated from a white dwarf accreting material from its companion star.”
“This pileup of gas eventually triggered a runaway thermonuclear explosion, making the dwarf nature’s own atomic bomb. The energy briefly unleashed was equal to the radiance of five billion Suns.”