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EUROPA - Research and Innovation: What's New in Innovation

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Innovation - Ancient Scientific Observations of a Supernova given a new lease of light! – Dark Matter, White Dwarfs, Explosive Death, Milky Way

Could beauty after all - "this time" - be in the eye of the beholder!

Disclaimer: None of the above astronomical terms is intended to offense.

Joking aside;

Tycho's Brahe’s supernova began on Nov. 11, 1572, when Brahe was astonished to see what he thought was a brilliant new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. The light eventually became as bright as Venus and could be seen for two weeks in broad daylight. After 16 months, it disappeared.

This sparked the beginning of Brahe's interest in celestial phenomena and my renewed interest in how scientists managed to carry out-their work in the economies of the time? But that will have to wait.

The direct light from the supernova swept past Earth long ago. But some of it struck dust clouds in deep space, causing them to brighten. That "light echo" was still observable. The new study was based on analyzing these wavelengths so confirming what had be largely circumstantial evidence.

The observations confirm that the supernova is of a variety known as 'type 1a'. These supernovae are created by the explosion of small, dense stars called white dwarfs. They are believed to explode with a standard brightness, which makes them a good tool for gauging the distance to far-off galaxies.

In recent years, such measurements have revealed that type 1a supernovae are farther away than expected, leading researchers to propose that a mysterious force called "dark energy" is pushing galaxies away from one another. Because Brahe's supernova is in the Milky Way, studying its remains could help astronomers to better understand type 1a supernovae and dark energy itself.

Hope springs eternally? Discuss.

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