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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid