Dumb it down
An Irishman discovers a supernova?
An Irishman has officially discovered a supernova, one of the most powerful things in the Universe; it’s a pretty big deal.
Why is it such a big deal?
Well in the day-to-day banality of life it’s probably not as big a deal as getting your car rear-ended by some a**hole or bumping into the ex-girlfriend with her new jock-boyfriend who drives a Porsche.
But in the grander scheme of things it speaks to the infinite possibilities of existence and the grand scale of the universe.
A supernova is a rare cosmic event that occurs usually at the end of a star's lifespan when a white dwarf or a sun's core undergoes several changes, more turbulent than the average adolescent during puberty, then collapses.
There are loads of different variations of supernovae and intricate science-y explanations of what happens, but what we think you’ll like is the result of what happens when a sun goes supernova...
Well nerdlinger, tell us what happens then...
It explodes with a ferocity possibly unrivalled in the Universe since the Big Bang and afterwards a blackhole may develop.
The supernova explodes with as much energy as the Sun has emitted over the course of its lifetime and expels its material at a velocity of up to 30,000 km/s. The explosion is so massive that it can be brighter than the entire galaxy that it is taking place in for a while.
The explosion is so massive that it would be the equivalent of ten octillion megatons of TNT exploding. We didn’t even know there was a number called “octillion!”
Wow that’s kind of cool... Who is the bright spark of an Irishman that discovered this one?
His name is David Grennan and he saw this from his observatory in Raheny. It’s his and Ireland’s second such discovery.
This supernova is over 123million light years away. David said it was quite a lucky discovery, “On the night in question I had programmed 117 galaxies to be examined. The telescope had captured images of all 117 targets. I had examined 112 of those with no success. Images 113-116 were ruined by cloud and I was just ready to shut down and go to sleep. Before I did so I looked at image 117 of 117 and my jaw almost hit the floor. The marked star did not appear on my previous image of this galaxy from December 2011.”
David got his discovery verified by international scientists who confirmed that the event took place in a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Lynx.
The destructive event took place 123million years ago and the light of it is only reaching Earth now. So that means it took place around the time of the dinosaurs and as the first flowers were evolving on Earth.
David's newly-discovered supernova. Don't worry, it's in there somewhere
You say this is David'd second discovery?
Yep David's a bit of a “star-performer” in Irish astronomy, pardon the pun...
No that was pathetic, we will not pardon that...but go on...
Well anyway David became the first Irishman to discover a new supernova in 2010, it was a good bit further away than this one – about 290million light years from Earth.
At the time David felt humbled by his discovery saying “Naturally I’m very excited at having made this discovery, especially since it’s a first for Ireland. I find myself wondering if there were some poor souls living on planets surrounding the star when it exploded. One thing is for sure, we’ll never know...”
Woah, could we be in trouble if one of these yolks hits us?
Yep it would rip the arse off us worse than John Wayne toilet paper.
Luckily it seems that we are in no immediate danger – our own sun is only halfway through its life expectancy.
A supernova would have to be within 33 lightyears of Earth to have any significant effect on our Ozone layer.
The closest candidate to affect us is IK Pegasi which is 100million lightyears away and shouldn’t be near enough to harm us by the time it goes supernova, but make no mistake if it was close enough - there goes the neighbourhood... and Solar System.
So all in all we're safe for a good few million years.
That’s a relief I was a bit shook for a minute there...
Calm down and listen to a little 90s Britpop then: