News / Science & Technology

10-Billion-Year-Old Supernova Oldest Ever Identified

The installation of Hubble’s new Wide Field Camera 3 in 2009 led to confirmation of Supernova SCP-0401’s age.
The installation of Hubble’s new Wide Field Camera 3 in 2009 led to confirmation of Supernova SCP-0401’s age.
Rosanne Skirble
Scientists have confirmed the discovery of the oldest and most distant supernova ever photographed.  

The faint remnants of the exploded star, more than 10 billion light-years distant, offer new clues to the formation of the early universe. 
 
When a massive star explodes, it’s called a supernova and is one of the most violent events in the universe. The bright, distinctive remnants of these explosions can be seen throughout the cosmos, and they provide valuable reference points for astronomers trying to measure the expansion of the universe.  

10-Billion-Year-Old Supernova Oldest Ever Identified
10-Billion-Year-Old Supernova Oldest Ever Identifiedi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Scientists know the rate of that expansion is accelerating, but they don’t know why, says David Rubin, a member of the Supernova Cosmology Project at the University of California, Berkeley. 
 
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the 10-billion year old supernova SCP-0401. (Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute)NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the 10-billion year old supernova SCP-0401. (Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute)
x
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the 10-billion year old supernova SCP-0401. (Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute)
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the 10-billion year old supernova SCP-0401. (Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute)
“We are currently working to make better and better measurements at greater and greater distance to pin down the source of the acceleration and determine its properties,” he said.
 
Ruben is studying type IA supernovae because they have uniform brightness, which means, he says, “If we observe a supernova and we observe its apparent brightness here on Earth, we can learn its distance. We can make a plot of the distance versus the expansion and try to distinguish various theories of acceleration.”
 
Using the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, the astronomers first spotted the distant supernova in a deep-space survey.  Its light was so dim it was nearly invisible, and researchers had to wait five years for a more advanced camera to be installed aboard Hubble to confirm that the tiny point of light really was a supernova.  

Cosmic images from the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, California:

  • Exocomets that circle distant stars might be more common than previously thought. (NASA/Lynette Cook)
  • Researchers have identified a new spine-like structure of our Milky Way galaxy -- a long, dense tendril of dust and gas. (NASA/JPL/SSC)
  • The Milky Way’s 'backbone' structure contains about 100,000 stars' worth of gas and dust. (Jarret et al. 2012 Wise Enhanced Resolution Galaxy Atlas)
  • NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the 10-billion year old supernova SCP-0401. (Space Telescope Science Institute)
  • The installation of Hubble’s new Wide Field Camera 3 in 2009 led to confirmation of Supernova SCP-0401’s age. (NASA)
  • Hubble Space Telescope/NICMOS near-infrared image of a black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy (NASA/STScI)
  • A University of Arizona-led team of astronomers has discovered inner asteroid belts and outer comet-filled belts similar to the arrangement found in our solar system around nearby stars Vega and Fomalhaut. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
  • Newly released NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of a vast debris disk encircling the nearby star Fomalhaut and a mysterious planet circling it may provide forensic evidence of a titanic planetary disruption in the system. (NASA, ESA)
  • The accelerating expansion of the galaxies observed by Hubble may conform more to Albert Einstein’s “cosmological constant” than a popular alternative theory of dark energy. (NASA; ESA)
  • Researchers using the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have captured new images of a ring of gas and dust seven light-years in diameter surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. (NASA/SOFIA/FORCAST tea
  • NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have probed the atmosphere of a brown dwarf, creating the most detailed 'weather map' yet for this class of cool, star-like orbs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
  • An artist’s conception of ice in a liquid hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS)
  • NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuStar) catches black holes in a galaxy web. (SA/JPL-Caltech/DS)
  • This infrared image from the European Southern Observatory’s VISTA telescope shows the globular cluster 47 Tucanae in sharp detail, revealing millions of stars. (ESO/M.-R. Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud Survey)
  • In their search for habitable worlds, astronomers have started to consider exomoons -- satellites orbiting planets in distant solar systems -- which could be just as likely to support life as exoplanets. (R. Heller, AIP)
Rubin told the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Long Beach, California, that the find was a breakthrough. 
 
“This is the most distant supernova with a precision distance measurement," he said. "It is 10 million years old, so it dates back in time to when the universe was only about four billion years old, younger than the earth is today.”
 
Rubin hopes to continue this work and measure dozens more distant supernovae at the edges of the visible universe.  He says  those efforts will be aided not only by new generation of instruments aboard the Hubble Space Telescope but also by the even more powerful instruments that will be aboard Hubble’s successor telescope, due to be launched in several years.

You May Like

Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Unlikely Before Monday

Tension builds over possible indictment of white police officer in shooting death of black teen More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current Russian-backed rebels’ fight in east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, Tokyo
January 11, 2013 7:31 PM
I think many Japanese have wrong image about so-called "Supernova", because in Japanese supernova is translated "Chou shin sei" that means "Super new star" if translate it literally.
Most Japanese think "Chou shin sei" is a baby star just born, instead of the end of stars.

In Response

by: Timur Tyncherov
January 16, 2013 10:33 AM
I see your point. The same awkward calque of Latin is inherited by the Russian language. It was dubbed “Supernova” in ancient times because ancients thought it was actually a newly-born star. Japanese honor the traditions and maybe will forgive and accept this stale and inapt term.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid