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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs