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Keck Telescope focuses on nearby supernova

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 8:16 a.m. HST, Aug 27, 2011

Astronomers using the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea have trained their attention on a rare celestial event, a stellar explosion in a neighboring galaxy.

The supernova began Wednesday in the Pinwheel Galaxy and astronomers at Keck and the Lick Telescope in California have confirmed it is a Type 1a supernova, which usually occur in very distant galaxies.

Having one appear so close is an opportunity to look for clues to the underlying cause. Astronomers hope to get a very precise location so that they can look at Hubble Space Telescope images and see if there was anything there before, perhaps a red giant star.

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