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01/30/2014 – Ephemeris – More on the supernova in M82

January 30, 2014

Ephemeris for Thursday, January 30th.  The sun will rise at 8:03.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 45 minutes, setting at 5:48.  The moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Let’s talk more about our new supernova in galaxy M82 off the bowl of the Big Dipper.  Of course new and nova used in the same sentence is a bit redundant because Nova is Latin for Stella Nova or new star.  It is thought that tiny massive white dwarf stars near the end of their life are involved in some way.  Type 1a supernovae all seem to explode with about the same brightness so it’s thought that they accrete matter from a nearby giant star until their mass gets to about 1.44 times the sun’s mass.  That that point they explode.  The explosion of 1.44 solar masses is what gives them the common brightness.  The 1.44 of the sun’s mass is called the Chandrasekhar limit discovered mathematically in 1930 by the Indian-American astronomer of the same name.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


821 finder chart 1

Finder Chart for M82 and M81. Actual time is 9 p.m. on January 28, 2014. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Discovery image

Discovery image of SN 2014J. Credit: UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright.

Check here for the Wikipedia article on astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and the Chandrasekhar limit.

Chandra, as he was know was honored four years after his death with the naming of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, one of NASA’s Great Observatories launched in 1999 and still operating.

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