The legendary Japanese astronomer Koichi Itagaki made a dazzling discovery recently, capturing observations of a visible supernova so close to Earth that astronomers have been able to spot it with amateur telescope setups. The supernova was found in the galaxy M101 and has been designated SN 2023ixf.
This supernova, which is close enough to Earth to allow a variety of skywatchers and astronomers to see it with out expensive equipment is very intriguing. Itagaki has made a lot of contributions to the field of astronomy. It’s not surprising that he continues to observe exciting events within the universe.
Look in the upper arm of this galaxy- you’ll see a star appear to blink in and out of existence. This is a supernova. Very recently discovered in m101: the Pinwheel galaxy (which I happened to be shooting when this happened) pic.twitter.com/8hvplfXNtd
— Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) May 20, 2023
The M101 galaxy is also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy or Messier 101. The galaxy is part of the Ursa Major constellation, and the supernova was first observed being visible on the evening of Friday, May 19. The magnitude of the supernova was measured to reach 14. 9, and a bright auroral display filled the night sky that same day.
All indications point toward SN 2023ixf being a Type II supernova, marking it as the catastrophic death of an aging supergiant star. These types of supernovas often happen when massive suns fuse simpler elements into complicated ones, causing energy to pulse and push through the surrounding area. Because it requires enormous energy to fuse iron with other elements, stars are unable to generate the energy necessary to maintain themselves.
The display was quite beautiful, and many astronomers took to the night sky with their telescopes to catch sight of the supernova while it was visible within M101. Some astronomers watching the sky that day include Andrew McCarthy, who has made a name for himself by capturing beautifully detailed photos of the Moon, the Sun, and even other cosmic events.
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