Astronomers are constantly looking into the past. No matter where you look out into space you are seeing things as they were minutes, hours or millions of years ago. Even at 186,000 miles per second, it takes eight minutes for light to reach us from the Sun. It takes four and a half years for light to reach us from the next nearest star, and millions or billions of years to reach us from other galaxies. So astronomers spend a great deal of time looking into the past.
But astronomers also have to look forward, and make predictions about the future. In order to keep astronomical research pushing at the forefront of our knowledge, astronomers need to predict what new areas of research and technology will help answer the pressing science questions of the next decade, and how much it will cost to build the telescopes, spacecraft and experiments needed to unlock the secrets of our Universe. And since it is impossible to pay for everything, someone has to prioritize which projects will get the biggest bang for the bucks in the coming decade. Continue Reading
Looking through the MyNewsFlash data coming in the last few days, and then examining the quick look data and recent light curve, it appears V391 Lyrae may be acting peculiar. It looks like it could be going into outburst, but it's taking its good sweet time about it. I'd like to see more data in the coming weeks. Not necessarily time series but maybe two or three times per night unless you see it dramatically rising to outburst.
Question: When is a supernova not a supernova?
Answer: Now that's an interesting story...
It all started on Christmas night 2005, when astronomers using the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT) in California discovered an apparent supernova not far from the center of the elliptical galaxy NGC 2274. There was nothing there on an image they had taken two weeks prior. Twelve hours later, Astronomers at the National Astronomical Observatory of China confirmed the 18th magnitude object was real. It was named SN2005md and the discovery was announced in CBET #332 on December 26.
A spectrogram taken on December 28 showed it to be most probably a "young Type-II supernova". This was announced in an IAU Circular (8650) on the 29th of December. Subsequent KAIT images showed that SN2005md faded rather quickly and it was fainter than magnitude 19.8 by January 2006.
Normally that would be the end of the story, but this time it wasn't. Continue Reading