The supernova SN 2014J is seen in this image near its peak brightness in the first week of February 2014. It appears as a faint star to the lower right of the central region of its host galaxy M82.
The new supernova is of a particular kind known as a Type Ia. This type of supernova results in the complete destruction of a white dwarf star-the small, dense, aged remnant of a typical star like our Sun. Two scenarios are theorized to give rise to Type Ia supernovas: In a binary star system, a white dwarf gravitationally pulls in matter from its companion star, accruing mass until the white dwarf crosses a critical threshold and blows up. Alternatively, two white dwarfs in a binary system spiral inward toward each other and eventually explosively collide.
Messier 82, also called the Cigar Galaxy, is a starburst galaxy located about 12 million light years away towards the constellation Ursa Major. It houses the brightest pulsar ever detected, which is likely pulling in nearby material at a high rate to power the glow.
Messier 82 has a neighbor, Messier 81. They passed close to each other about a hundred million years ago. The result of the gravitational interaction of the two pulling at each other was a burst of star formation in Messier 82, classifying it as a starburst galaxy. The young stars emit intense radiation, which blows out gas and dust.
“Once upon a time in a galaxy 12 million light years away, a tiny white dwarf star went supernova – and for a few fleeting weeks was elevated in brightness to outshine the rest of the stars in its galaxy combined.
The far, far away galaxy is called Messier 82 and lies in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major (Big Bear, Big Dipper). Also known as the "Cigar Galaxy,” owing to its long narrow shape and maybe its ashy appearance in small telescopes, M-82 has been known to us since the late 18th century when Charles Messier observed and cataloged it during his search for comets.“
Researchers Just Discovered The Brightest Dead Star Ever Found
Astronomers using NASA’s NuSTAR telescope array have found something beautiful about 12 million light-years from our planet Earth: The brightest dead star, or pulsar, ever found. It’s only called a dead star because it’s the leftovers from a supernova — this thing is still very much alive, pumping out around 10 million suns’ worth of energy, according to NASA. Scientists originally thought the pulsar, located in the Messier 82 galaxy, was a black hole, but it turns out that isn’t the case at all.
“You might think of this pulsar as the ‘Mighty Mouse’ of stellar remnants,” said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, in a NASA release about the pulsar. “It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass.”
Messier 82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy or NGC 3034, is a starburst galaxy located about 12 million light years away towards the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The red cloud in this image is made up of hydrocarbon dust similar to car exhaust, which is being blown into space by the millions of young stars in the galaxy.
In the center of the Cigar Galaxy, stars are being born ten times faster than they are in the entire Milky Way. The huge concentration of young stars, and the galactic winds they generate, compresses enough gas and dust to create millions of more stars. The young stars in the galaxy are compressed into small, dense star clusters which congregate to form the “starburst clumps” in the center of the galaxy. Eventually, as star formation continues, the new stars will consume the materials in the galaxy and star formation will slow, probably in a few tens of millions of years.
Image from National Geographic, information from National Geographic and NASA.