A group of Iowa State University astronomers has helped discover an exploding star or “supernova” in a distant galaxy. Phil Appleton, an I-S-U professor of physics and astronomy, says it’s not something most backyard stargazers in Iowa will be able to pick out with their telescopes.The I-S-U team at the observatory near Boone helped confirm supernova “S-N-2001-V,” which is roughly 180-million light years from earth. A single light year is the distance light travels in a year’s time — about six trillion miles. Since it is -so- far away, Appleton says the explosion actually happened a very long time ago: we’re just now seeing the effects.While the supernova is about one-million times fainter than the brightest star in the sky, he says it’s thrilling to see this exploding star in this stage, since it’s at its peak of brightness this week. Appleton says it’ll be completely gone within about one hundred days.
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