Telescopes are honing in on the brightest supernova to be seen in 40 years, and it’s getting brighter by the minute. Named PTF 11kly, it was discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) survey using a robotic telescope that scans the night sky.
Peter Nugent of the Berkeley Lab said of the find, “We caught this supernova very soon after explosion. PTF 11kly is getting brighter by the minute. It’s already 20 times brighter than it was yesterday….Observing PTF 11kly unfold should be a wild ride. It is an instant cosmic classic.”
TG Daily reports that the supernova might even be seen with good binoculars within ten days, so grab your field glasses, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, and look to the skies for an exploding star. Hopefully, the sky will be dark enough to allow for a spectacular show, unlike the last comparable event in 1986 which was clouded by dust.
Andrew Howell of UC Santa Barbara/Las Cumbres Global Telescope Network is thrilled by the possibilities.
“When you catch them this early, mixed in with the explosion you can actually see unburned bits from star that exploded! It is remarkable…We are finding new clues to solving the mystery of the origin of these supernovae that has perplexed us for 70 years. Despite looking at thousands of supernovae, I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
It’s an opportunity seldom seen or experienced. The closest and brightest supernova in 40 years will appear just after twilight, in about a week, so sky-gazers, plan accordingly. Grab a couple of lawn chairs, a pair of binoculars, and pray for clear, dark night skies. You could be in for a real treat.