Hubble sees light echoes of supernova explosion in distant galaxy
Explosion is the closest one in at least 40 years
The Hubble Space Telescope captured the light echoes of a distant supernova rebounding off a dust cloud in a distant galaxy.
On Jan. 21, 2014, a star in the M82 galaxy, which lies 11.4 million light-years away and can be found near the bowl of the Big Dipper, exploded in a brilliant supernova named SN 2014J.
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Over several months from 2014-2017, Hubble turned its camera towards M82 to capture the result of the massive blast, witnessing light bouncing off a giant dust cloud that stretches 300 to 1,600 light years from the supernova itself.
Like a ripple in a pond, the echo effect occurs as light from the explosion bounces off a nearby dust cloud and travels at different distances to reach Earth.
SN 2014J is a Type Ia supernova, where two small stars share an orbit called a binary star system. One small star in the system is a white dwarf, which begins to collect material from the companion star. After it collects too much mass, the white dwarf explodes in a supernova.
This is the closest type of explosion in about 40 years.