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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs