POSTED: 7:56 p.m. HST, Aug 26, 2011
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.