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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid