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August 30, 2006

“Star Burst Caught in Real Time”

While some of us are busy gawking about who’s next to be booted from Rockstar: Supernova, scientists have been writing papers to be published tomorrow in Nature about a supernova that “happened in February, 2006.” (Why didn’t I hear about this in February?) At any rate, the star’s death lasted nearly 40 minutes, extraordinarily long, and as such, telescopes were able to capture the event. No, we don’t get to see it, but you can read about the phenomenon and the theories it has sparked.

The funny thing is, the star is about 440 million light years away, yet the writer says it happened in February. Rather, we witnessed it in February, because it actually happened 440 million years ago (give or take a few months). It’s so incredibly fascinating, though, to realise one can see back in time millions of years. I wonder what our part of the universe looked like back then?