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Junior-Sized Supernova Discovered By New York Teen

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the so-many-prodigies dept.

Space 154

Matt_dk writes "In November 2008, Caroline Moore, a 14-year-old student from upstate New York, discovered a supernova in a nearby galaxy, making her the youngest person ever to do so. Additional observations determined that the object, called SN 2008ha, is a new type of stellar explosion, 1000 times more powerful than a nova but 1000 times less powerful than a supernova. Astronomers say that it may be the weakest supernova ever seen."

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154 comments

If it's anything like my old Chevy Nova... (1, Funny)

GreatAntibob (1549139) | more than 4 years ago | (#28295945)

It'll light up the night sky.

Re:If it's anything like my old Chevy Nova... (1, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297203)

A note on geography: upstate New York is not NYC. It's the rest of the state, some of it is far enough away from the light polution [darksky.org] that there is a chance see stars. There's small chance of seeing even the moon, let alone the milkyway [cosmosmagazine.com] in any major US city.

It's a shame. There's no good reason we have to spend good money shining light up into the sky, rather than keeping it on the ground where we paid for it to be. In a lot of areas a good case could be made to put the streetlights on timers and cut out after 11pm or midnight.

Re:If it's anything like my old Chevy Nova... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28297785)

I live in NYC. One of my friends claims I live "upstate" because I live north of 96th St.

Re:If it's anything like my old Chevy Nova... (2, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297827)

There's small chance of seeing even the moon, let alone the milkyway [cosmosmagazine.com] in any major US city.

Huh? Which city have you been to where the ambient light pollution is brighter than the moon?

It's misquoted (4, Funny)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296031)

Astronomers say that it may be the weakest supernova ever seen.

What actually happened is that the astronomers were told that a 14-year-old child found a supernova that they'd all missed, and they groaned "Oh, that's weak!"

No light pollution there (3, Interesting)

the_arrow (171557) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296033)

It seems like this kid didn't have to worry about light pollution [slashdot.org].

Re:No light pollution there (0)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296227)

That's because she was using a telescope - even a small one negates the problem. Just like observing the sky from the bottom of a well. Standing in a 10m-deep well in the middle of a bright day you will see a piece of night sky, with stars and all, when you look up (well, except when you're on the equator and it's exactly the midday, but that's a corner case of sorts).

It's still very likely that the night sky around where she lives is too polluted with light to see anything interesting with the naked eye.

Re:No light pollution there (2, Informative)

bloosqr (33593) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296391)

Your post got me curious if this was true or not (whether looking from the botttom of a well would allow one to see stars) as its much more intuitive to have the lens be the primary mechanism for telescope than simply the tube. I don't think it is. Snopes actually has an article on whether this is true and under what conditions could one even hypothesize it is true:

http://www.snopes.com/science/well.asp [snopes.com]

Re:No light pollution there (3, Insightful)

literaldeluxe (1527087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296411)

Standing in a 10m-deep well in the middle of a bright day you will see a piece of night sky, with stars and all, when you look up

I have trouble believing that. Light scatters in the atmosphere; it's not just coming at you in straight lines from each source. Standing in a well doesn't change the fact that the bright, scattered light from the sun or terrestrial sources will reach your eyes and make it impossible to see faint objects. Reducing the amount of peripheral, direct light will improve the situation, but I doubt it will have enough of an impact to be noticeable, and certainly not enough to see "night sky, with stars and all" on a sunny day.

Re:No light pollution there (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296437)

I'm pretty sure you cannot see "a piece of the night sky" from the bottom of a well during the day.

This is because the air molecules scatter the light all over and send them to your retina making your pupil constrict and reduce sensitivity so that you can't see the stars as well as make the background bright providing no contrast

In case I'm wrong here, can you provide any reference for the statement you make? AFAIK, you cannot see any stars when there is ambient light no matter what tunnel you look through

Re:No light pollution there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296549)

your sig + your post = irony

Re:No light pollution there (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296569)

What in the holy hell are you blathering about? The daytime sky is blue regardless of whether or not you're looking at it through a tube. OK, maybe if your telescope is about 100km long so it sticks right out of the atmosphere and is air tight so you can maintain a vacuum inside. The color comes from the sunlight scattered by the air itself, and there's a lot of it between yourself and outer space so the brightness of this scattered sunlight is sufficient to drown out any stars and planets, with the occasional exception of Venus.

Re:No light pollution there (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297413)

Actually to be completely pedantic, I don't necessarily think you'd need to maintain vacuum inside the tube if it were 100km long. Just so long as sunlight weren't entering the tube directly there would be no scattering effect that you'd have to peer through.

Re:No light pollution there (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296663)

Telescopes don't negate the problem but they do help to lessen it to a certain extent.

Re:No light pollution there (3, Informative)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296673)

That's because she was using a telescope - even a small one negates the problem. Just like observing the sky from the bottom of a well. Standing in a 10m-deep well in the middle of a bright day you will see a piece of night sky, with stars and all, when you look up (well, except when you're on the equator and it's exactly the midday, but that's a corner case of sorts).

[[citation needed]]

Standing at the bottom of a well doesn't magically make the sky dark at midday. Other than a few very bright objects (Venus, maybe Jupiter, maybe the ISS, if it happens to path over the small swatch of sky you could see), I strongly doubt that you'll see anything other than blue sky. I've yet to read a convincing argument (or better, see a convincing picture) that proves the "bottom of a well" hypothesis any better than the "airplane on a treadmill" problem.

The closest explanation I've heard would be that, when viewing at dusk, your eyes would be better adjusted to the low-light conditions, since you've presumably been standing at the bottom of a dark well for a while. Which isn't that much more useful to anyone (short of maybe unwilling friends of Jame Gumb) than sitting in a dark room before going outside.

Also, please explain how using a telescope magically invalidates light pollution. If I follow your line of reasoning, I should be able to use a pair of binoculars to get a crystal clear view out of a dirty window.

How telescopes "invalidate" light pollution, sorta (4, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297331)

Also, please explain how using a telescope magically invalidates light pollution. If I follow your line of reasoning, I should be able to use a pair of binoculars to get a crystal clear view out of a dirty window.

You're right that the "bottom of a well" claim is bogus, but you miss the boat in this last paragraph.

A telescope collects more light than the naked eye, and it also magnifies the image of what you're seeing. If you're looking at an extended object -- a nebula, a planet, or a patch of light-polluted sky -- this magnification spreads the object's light over a wider area, making it dimmer. Stars, though, are still effectively point sources, so they just look brighter.

So, looking for stars in a light-polluted sky is easier with a telescope, because it makes the stars appear brighter relative to their background. With nebulae, comets, or other extended objects, especially where the object's apparent brightness doesn't exceed the sky's apparent brightness, the telescope doesn't help much at all.

As for the binoculars and the dirty window, well, the dirt would be out-of-focus for the binoculars, so they might help a little. Mostly, though, the analogy is a poor fit. Light pollution is effectively radiating from clear sky, not blocking light as smog or clouds would do.

Re:No light pollution there (1)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297811)

Light pollution is caused by light emitted from Earth, while mid-day light is caused by the sun hitting the earth's atmosphere, which is why you won't be seeing any stars standing at the bottom of a well in mid-day, doesn't matter how well adjusted your pupils are in the dark. If that were the case, looking through a 10m long telescope above ground, with your pupils adjusted to the dark, would yield the same result. Using a small telescope as opposed to a large one, is more beneficial in light polluted areas, since you will be receiving less light-pollution in the 'bucket', brightness of the object in question, remains the same, so the ratio of brightness/light pollution is higher, yielding a brighter image.

Re:No light pollution there (4, Funny)

SkyDude (919251) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296715)

I'm thinking that you may see stars if you've just arrived at the bottom of a well, but they won't be in the sky. You may also hear bells, birds and a lot of wincing.

Re:No light pollution there (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296767)

What? All I see at the bottom of a well is a bucket and this damn lotion.

Re:No light pollution there (2, Interesting)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297275)

0 for 2.

First, the "bottom of a well" story is false. Some discussion here: http://www.astronomycafe.net/qadir/q241.html [astronomycafe.net] as well as at snopes. Got a piece of pipe? Try it for yourself.

Second, light pollution of the night sky is a massive problem for astronomers. The lights of Los Angeles reduced the Griffith Observatory to a tourist attraction, and the city of San Diego spent a bucket of money on shielded lighting to mitigate what it was doing to the Palomar installation.

rj

Re:No light pollution there (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296301)

Yeah, that's surprising. I wonder how she was able to do that. Was she in a really dark area, or did she go out on a trip to stargaze? I know you can't see jackshit when you're surrounded by light no matter what telescope you're using.
Also, I'd like to know whether she actually SAW the transition happen, or did she notice something that wasn't there a few days ago? And then when she knew that something was different, did she call someone? Tell the papers? Tell her parents? (who must also need to know something about astronomy and give a shit).
Basically how did all this happen exactly?

Re:No light pollution there (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296321)

Light had nothing to do with this. She's just another New York Jew using a smelloscope [imageshack.us] in conjunction with her hornbill [wikipedia.org].

Re:No light pollution there (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296933)

It seems like this kid didn't have to worry about light pollution.

She didn't have to worry about heavy pollution either!

(cricket noises)

Hanz and Franz are here to *CLAP* PAHMP U AHP! (-1, Redundant)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296041)

Caroline! You have a flabby little girly supernova!

Yah! That's so weak!

Sorry, it just the duality of being the first to find something being classified as sub-par is funny in a schadenfreude-kinda way.

Still, I think it's great someone this young was able to participate and actually was able to contribute something like this to science.

supernova vs nova (1)

fatp (1171151) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296103)

supernova:nova = 1000000:1

And things between wasn't discovered?

The universe is wonderful.

Re:supernova vs nova (3, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297103)

Well, yes...

The thing to realize is, in spite of their related names, a nova and a supernova are fundamentally different phenomena. They happen to have enough similarity (esp. in what's observed) to be named as though a "supernova" were just a nova only bigger, but that obscures huge differences in what's really going on.

AFAIK, neither phenomenon would be expected to produce this kind of mid-range result. Possibly it's a different kind of event altogether. (Must... resist... LHC joke...)

So the weakest supernova to date ... (0)

0racle (667029) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296109)

... was discovered by the weakest supernova discoverer to date.

Neat.

She got a raw deal... (3, Funny)

jimbudncl (1263912) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296157)

She discovered it and they didn't even name it after her??? Sue, Caroline, sue!

Re:She got a raw deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296429)

I agree - we've got Tycho's star and Kepler's star; this should be Moore's star

Neither Nova nor Supernova (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296171)

This is actually the first observed instance of a new class of objects... planets destroyed by Darth Vader's Death Star.

Hah! LoL! Roffle! Snoorkleworkle! Hehehe!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296249)

Dude, that's about as funny as asking me to come all over your face. ATestR, please get a life or a sense of humor. Bonus points if you get both.

Re:Neither Nova nor Supernova (2, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296281)

No; that was in a galaxy, far, far away.

This was in a nearby galaxy.

Re:Neither Nova nor Supernova (1)

kno3 (1327725) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297793)

Hahahaha! Funniest wit I have heard all day, thank you good sir! If I had mod points you would get one.

Re:Neither Nova nor Supernova (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296657)

Wow. Really?

Sky coverage + Observing Time = Discoveries (3, Interesting)

AaronParsons (1172445) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296219)

The cool thing is that in astronomy, we're still miles from having full sky coverage 24/7. This means that even if you have a (relatively) small telescope, you can still see things the big ones can't just by looking somewhere no one else is at a particular time.

I wish they described how the discovered got funneled up to the supernova scientists on the paper published on it. She must have been with someone who really knew that the "new star" she saw there wasn't supposed to be there, and that person deserves some credit, too!

Re:Sky coverage + Observing Time = Discoveries (1)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296413)

She just pointed the telescope at the sky and waited long enough. I believe that if you wait enough, you're bound to seeing something unique because there's lots of stuff out there that only comes out every once in a while. This sounds like a crazy idea, so who would believe it, right? There must have been someone who understood that it was possible, someone with astronomy knowledge. That's who deserves some credit!

Re:Sky coverage + Observing Time = Discoveries (0)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297311)

I wish they described how the discovered got funneled up to the supernova scientists on the paper published on it. She must have been with someone who really knew that the "new star" she saw there wasn't supposed to be there, and that person deserves some credit, too!

Could be a new take on the over-bearing parent forcing the child to achieve: "Caroline, you will take credit for this astronomical discovery or it is right to bed with no dessert for you! Do you understand me?...No, I don't care if your father dragged you out against your will. College admissions will eat this story up...What? Well I have news for you: You love astronomy and you are going to college!"

Re:Sky coverage + Observing Time = Discoveries (5, Informative)

cwills (200262) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297611)

Within the amateur and professional astronomy circles there is a fairly wide known and standard method of reporting astronomical stuff (see http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/iau/cbat.html [harvard.edu] )

Many deepsky objects (galaxies, nebulae, star clusters) become "well known friends" by amateur astronomers. For example, when ever I'm out observing I will usually do a quick peek at M13 in Hercules, M81, M82 in Ursa Major, or parts of the Veil nebulae in Cygnus when they are visible (just to name a few). I suspect if there was a new supernova in M81 or M82, there is a chance that I would "catch it" by noticing something "odd" (think of it like noticing a new pimple on a friends face). Once something "odd" is noticed, the next step would be to check recent and older photographs of that region. If it's suspected to be "new" then the information is submitted to the IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams according to the instructions listed above. Usually the next step that happens is that the pros might get involved to verify the finding.

There are "rules" on who discovers the object, based mainly on the chronological time that IAU receives the information. Co-discovery of the same object can happen, usually the cut-off is when the IAU sends out the notice that there is a potential new object. In other words, say that I notice a new brightness in M81, I record the information and at 10:15 GMT send it in to the IAU CBAT. Someone else also notices the same object and sends in the information at 10:30 GMT. There is a CBAT notice sent out to subscribers at 10:35 GMT. Any observation after 10:35 would not be considered a discovery.

BTW if you go out to http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/iau/lists/RecentSupernovae.html [harvard.edu] and look for 2008ha, you will find that there where 2 other people who are listed as discoverers of the same supernova, and it looks like Caroline Moore has been "working" with the same folks because she is also listed with at least one of them on two other recent supernova discoveries.

[transcript from Caroline's discovery] (1)

jimbudncl (1263912) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296245)

"Welcome to McUniverse, would you like to try a black hole sundae?"

"No thanks, could I just have a junior super nova salad, to go?"

"Would you like to biggie size that?"

"....."

Re:[transcript from Caroline's discovery] (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28297043)

You get that joke off the 99 cent menu?

It goes both ways! (4, Insightful)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296257)

Astronomers say that it may be the weakest supernova ever seen.

Or the strongest nova..

Statement on Society (0, Redundant)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296271)

"If a normal supernova is a nuclear bomb, then SN 2008ha is a bunker buster..."

I find it kind of a sad statement on society that a scientist finds a comparison to weapons of war to be the best way to describe an event to people. It's a good analogy because it explains the situation well but it says a lot about society that that's the analogy-of-choice...

Re:Statement on Society (3, Funny)

ijakings (982830) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296479)

I would much prefer a "How many Librarys of Congress can the explosion blow up" System. So for example this Nova can blow up 1000 times more librarys of congress than a regular Nova.

Re:Statement on Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296731)

How about global warming factor?

This supernova will cause sea levels to rise by XX feet.

Re:Statement on Society (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296487)

The analogy of choice is generally a car analogy. In this case they eschewed that for one more relevant, the largest explosion most humans can imagine. I suppose they could have chosen something like eruptions of mega volcanoes like Krakatoa, but even those are generally compared to nuclear bombs for scale.

Re:Statement on Society (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296579)

OK - how else would you make a close analogy to a massive nuclear explosion in space? Maybe use something that is, I don't know - similar? Oh, no, we can't have that, now everything is a sad commentary on society. Sir, I think it says more about your outlook that you always look for ways to find fault with others and then cluck your tongue reproachfully.

Re:Statement on Society (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296741)

Alright, let me clarify since you seemed to miss the point - I find it sad that referencing a bunker buster in an analogy about an event in space is appropriate. I find it sad that the term "bunker buster" has been used sufficiently that the average person will immediately know what you're describing _and_ know enough about it to be able to envision it. As I said, the analogy works - it accurately portrays what they're trying to describe - but I find it unfortunate that we live in a world where "bunker buster" is part of the average person's lexicon. As for my outlook, you know nothing at all about what my outlook is or what I always look for. Thanks.

Re:Statement on Society (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297185)

OK - how else would you make a close analogy to a massive nuclear explosion in space?

Kirstey Alley inside the Astrodome on an ice cream binge?

Re:Statement on Society (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296681)

It's an explosion dumbass.

Your tiger wants more tofu.

Re:Statement on Society (1)

themightythor (673485) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296823)

I was going to post that relating one type of explosion to another type is a good analogy, but was beaten to the punch. What I will ask is why are you complaining about it when you yourself admit that the analogy is a good one? Can you think of a better one?

Re:Statement on Society (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297089)

Yeah, the standard dumbing down units is how many football fields long or how many libraries of congress worth of information. Nuclear bombs? meh!

Re:Statement on Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28297697)

I find it kind of a sad statement on Slashdot that stupidity like this gets modded up.

In other news... (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296287)

North Korea Conducts New Nuke Test

From TFA:The peculiar object effectively bridged the gap between a nova (a nuclear explosion on the surface of an old, compact star called a white dwarf) and a type Ia supernova (the destructive death of a white dwarf caused by a runaway nuclear reaction starting deep in the star). SN 2008ha likely was a failed supernova where the explosion was unable to destroy the entire star. âoeIf a normal supernova is a nuclear bomb, then SN 2008ha is a bunker buster,â said team leader Ryan Foley

Weakest Supernova? (2, Insightful)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296303)

Pet Peeve Alert:

Weakest Supernova or STRONGEST NOVA?

I'm mean seriously, a star exploding is a star exploding. Mario or Super Mario. He's still a fat plumber who eats shrooms...

I bet if the highly paid scientists found it they'd be touting the "Strongest NOVA ever see discovered" where as some plucky kid finds it they're like "umm weakest Super nova ever...."

Word play is fun...

It is almost like asking "Is it an A- or a B+" or the musical types the whole sharp flat deal...

Re:Weakest Supernova? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296555)

No. A nova and a supernova are two completely distinct events, with the force of the resulting explosion being only the most obvious difference between the two. This was a small supernova. Google it or something.

Re:Weakest Supernova? (4, Informative)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296913)

A supernova entails core collapse and results in the destruction of the star. A nova is an explosion occurring in the upper level of a star's atmosphere and does not destroy the star. Novas recur in a more or less cyclic fashion, supernovas never recur.

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297255)

But it still goes boom right? Err wait no sound... well actually... no.. but there would be a pressure wave... no air to carry it... DAMN YOU SCI-FI CHANNEL!!

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

k.a.f. (168896) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297143)

Who modded this insightful?

An A- is quite distinct from a B+. Neighbouring, but different. An f sharp is quite different from a g flat in function, and only sounds identical if your hearing is mediocre. A supernova and a nova work on quite different lines, and in fact there are several types of each. And please, resist the temptation of tagging this as "mininova"... it's most definitely either a maxinova, or else a mini-supernova.

[obligatory lawn reference]

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297205)

I honestly don't know. Some days I am just in the mood to burn karma and I fail miserably. I was shooting for Funny actually.

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297317)

Weakest Supernova or STRONGEST NOVA?

I'm mean seriously, a star exploding is a star exploding

When you've seen one redwood, you've seen 'em all, eh?
Here's a quote from the first article a Google search turned up: But if SN2008ha is a Type II supernova, where did the hydrogen go? The answer might be mass loss. Some stars are so massive and luminous that they lose their outer hydrogen layers in strong outflowing stellar winds. And because they're so massive, their cores collapse into a black hole without transfering energy to the outer layers of the star, which may explain the low luminosity of the explosion. I've never read anything quite like this before.

The headline should have read along the lines of: Teen May Have Discovered Most Massive, Least Luminous Supernova

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297643)

Pet Peeve Alert:

Weakest Supernova or STRONGEST NOVA?

I'm mean seriously, a star exploding is a star exploding.

Nova and Super Nova are completely different phenomena. It is confusing that they are both called Nova, but that's the name they were given when they were just lights in the sky, and we didn't have proper models for what we were looking at.

A nova is a white dwarf in a binary system that collects gas from the neighbor and occasionally blows it top. A supernova is a huge star collapsing down to a neutron star and releasing a lot of energy in the process.

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297889)

I disagree with your statement. A Supernova is the violent death of a star, a Nova is the sudden brightness of a star caused by a sudden temperature rise, the star itself doesn't die. At one point in history, Supernovas were thought to be brighter Novas (which is why it was name SuperNova), but that was proven to be wrong.

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28298245)

I disagree with your statement. A Supernova is the violent death of a star, a Nova is the sudden brightness of a star caused by a sudden temperature rise, the star itself doesn't die. At one point in history, Supernovas were thought to be brighter Novas (which is why it was name SuperNova), but that was proven to be wrong.

As the discussions have rolled on the SuperNova is gone when complete, Nova still remain and may repeatedly go Nova again.

I wonder where a magnatar falls into this mix...

Re:Weakest Supernova? (2, Informative)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 4 years ago | (#28298049)

But they are different physical phenomenons, in the nova, only hydrogen burns, in a type Ia supernova, carbon burns (type Ia, Ic and II doesn't come from whote dwarves). So it makes sense to distinguish between powerful novae and weak supernovae, even if they can have the same luminosity.

Re:Weakest Supernova? (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28298263)

But they are different physical phenomenons, in the nova, only hydrogen burns, in a type Ia supernova, carbon burns (type Ia, Ic and II doesn't come from whote dwarves). So it makes sense to distinguish between powerful novae and weak supernovae, even if they can have the same luminosity.

fair enough

Awesome (4, Interesting)

pluther (647209) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296431)

While the article, and many commenters so far have remarked on the irony of the youngest amateur astronomer finding the smallest supernova, it's pretty remarkable that what she actually found was a completely new astronomical phenomenon.

From what I understand, the mechanisms behind novae and supernovae are pretty well understood. But this is something new altogether. According to the article, they're not even sure it's an actual supernova. Nobody has ever seen this exact behavior in a star before. We're going to learn a lot from this, and it would be pretty damn remarkable even if the discoverer hadn't been a 14 year old amateur.

Re:Awesome (1)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297075)

As Gregg Easterbrook has been known to write, it's the massive explosions of an interstellar war.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28298001)

You might mean that novae and supernovae have pretty established theories about what they are and how they work.

Everything is relative (0)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 4 years ago | (#28296595)

Astronomers say that it may be the weakest supernova ever seen

With no clear boundary between nova and supernova, this could also be the strongest nova.
Just like Australia being the biggest island : if it were bigger, it would be a continent....

I hereby declare that I have the biggest weenie on earth. Anything bigger should be called a penis!

Re:Everything is relative (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297371)

Australia is a continent...

This might be a Nova, or a Supernova, or something else, but in any case, nova and supernova work very differently - it is not just a matter of degree.

Re:Everything is relative (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297571)

Agreed; calling this the "weakest supernova ever seen" is like giving out an award for the "world's tallest midget".

Would that make it... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28296781)

...a mininova? Do they have good torrents?

I can do one better (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297129)

discovered a supernova in a nearby galaxy, making her the youngest person ever to do so

She may be the youngest to find a supernova in another galaxy, but I'll do better yet by watching for the first supernova in our solar sytem. We'll see who's laughing then!

Supernova Junior (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297415)

The Supernova Junior: now only $0.99 at Burger King

Re:Supernova Junior (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297939)

The Supernova Junior: now only $0.99 at Burger King

I think Taco Bell beat them to it - at least it felt like a supernova in my bowel the last time I ate a Taco Bell product. . .

Kilonova, Meganova (3, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297473)

Additional observations determined that the object, called SN 2008ha, is a new type of stellar explosion, 1000 times more powerful than a nova but 1000 times less powerful than a supernova.

Well, I'm glad to see celestial phenomena follow the metric system, at least. I propose we name this a kilonova and rename the supernova to a meganova.

New astronomic event label: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28297533)

Aboveaveragenova. or Supernova-Sidekick.

Is she sure... (1)

Drone69 (1517261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28297783)

it was a supernova exploding when she waslooking through her, undoubtly pink, telescope? Or was her next door neighbor, Mr. Reamus, 'exploding' near his bedroom window?
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