Fireworks near the Big Dipper

Astronomers see a star as it explodes

By Stephen Ornes, 16:20 PM September 14, 2011

 

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Twenty-one million years ago, a white dwarf star exploded in a burst of light and energy that began racing through space in all directions. In late August, a robotic telescope in California detected evidence of the event. Word went out to stargazers all over the world. Soon, they turned their telescopes to watch the light show.

 

And they were delighted.

 

A star explosion is called a supernova. And it’s rare for astronomers to see one that’s so close. (The star that exploded was about 21 mill...

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