Supernova in M82 - SN 2014J (2014 Jan 29)

During the early evening of January 21, 2014, students and staff at the University College of London’s teaching observatory discovered a supernova in a nearby galaxy known as M82 (aka the Cigar Galaxy). Dr Steve Fossey and students Ben Cooke, Tom Wright, Matthew Wilde and Guy Pollack made the discovery at 19:20 GMT. Complete details can be found in a UCL press release.

The supernova is officially designated SN 2014J and is classify as a Type Ia Supernova. Briefly, these objects involve a binary star system (two stars orbiting one another) in which one of the stars is a carbon-oxygen white dwarf that accretes matter from the second star. When the white dwarf reaches a critical mass it becomes unstable. A runaway nuclear fusion reaction ensues causing the white dwarf to violently explode apart as a supernova. See Progenitor of a Type Ia Supernova for more details. The typical Type Ia supernova is about 5 billion times brighter than the Sun at its peak. This is often brighter than the galaxy the supernova resides in. Additional details about SN 2014J can be found in Wikipedia.

The image above captures the supernova from Bifrost Observatory (Portal, AZ) on the evening of January 29 (MST) using a 12" telescope. SN 2014J appears as the brightest object in M82. Shining at magnitude ~10.5, SN 2014J was near its peak when this image was shot. (See AAVSO light curve)

The image below is the full frame image from which the above image was cropped. It shows M82 in relation to a nearby spiral galaxy known as M81. The pair are located in the constellation Ursa Major approximately 10° northwest of the "Big Dipper" pointer star Dubhe (Alpha Ursae Majoris). M81 and M82 are located at a distance of 12 million light-years from us, while their distance from each other is 150,000 light years. They are the largest members of the M81 Group, a physical association of of 34 galaxies.

SN 2014J

Technical Details

Supernova in M82 - SN 2014J

Supernova - SN 2014J
2014 Jan 23

Supernova - SN 2014J
2014 Jan 29

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