Credit: Stefan Immler NASA/GSFC, Swift Science Team
Supernovae, those titanic stellar explosions, happen relatively rarely on average, maybe once every 25 to 100 years. So it's unusual when two supernovae are seen at once in the same galaxy, as the hard X-ray/ultraviolet observatory called Swift did in the galaxy NGC 1316 back in 2006. These supernovae occurred within 5 months of each other. But now Swift has broken that record. A recent observation by Swift of an obscure galaxy known as MCG +05-43-16 (shown above in UV light) revealed two supernova occurring within 6 weeks of each other. Making the story even odder, the two supernovae are of different types, one marking the destruction of a very massive star, the other the death of a lower mass stellar remnant. When will such an event be seen in the Milky Way? No one knows - we've been waiting more than 400 years for the next supernova in our Galaxy.
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:28:21 EDT