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Keck Telescope focuses on nearby supernova

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COURTESY PALOMAR TRANSIENT FACTORY
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. The green arrow at left shows the location before the explosion. At right, you can see the white dot of the explosion.

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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