A new supernova has been discovered in the Fireworks galaxy (NGC 6946). The Fireworks galaxy is aptly named for the record number of supernovae that have exploded in it over the the last century. Supernova 2017 eaw was discovered on May 14 and now the number of supernovae recorded in the Fireworks galaxy is ten!
A photo of the Fireworks galaxy is shown below. This photo was taken from the observatory in 2013 and supervova 2017 eaw is not yet visible because it didn’t explode until much later in May of 2017.
A supernova occurs when a star’s core changes, causing a super-massive explosion that is one of the most impression events occurring in the universe. A Type I supernova occurs when a white dwarf gains too much mass from another star orbiting it. The white dwarf gains more and more mass until its core collapses from gravitational forces. A Type II supernova occurs when a massive star (many times the mass of our Sun) runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses. The star’s core collapses from the gravitational forces and finally explodes.
Both types of supernova are extremely bright for a short time and diminish thereafter. Supernova 2017 eaw has been determined to be a type II supernova.
On May 24 and 25th 2017, the observatory imaged the Fireworks galaxy again. The images from May 2017 were compared to those taken in 2013. The comparison was converted into a video to alternate frames between 2013 and 2017 causing the supernova 2017 eaw to be revealed as a blinking star from frame to frame. You can play the video below and see the comparison with the location of the supernova in the Fireworks galaxy.