How long will the new supernova last in the night sky?
If you don’t get a chance to spot a new supernova explosion in the night sky, don’t worry — it’ll be for another year or so. And it won’t disappear quickly — scientists expect it to fade slowly until it’s no longer visible in visible light.
The new supernova was first seen on May 19, when supernova hunter Koichi Itagaki of Yamagata detected a new bright spot in the Pinwheel galaxy. The supernova was confirmed the next day by the Zwicky Transit Facility (ZTF) in California.
Fortunately for sky watchers and astrophotographers, astronomers expect the supernova to be visible for some time. “We expect the luminosity to remain stable for weeks, if not months,” Daniel Birley, an astrophysicist at the John Moores Observatory in Liverpool, told Space.com. “Stay bright.”
Connected: How do you see the new supernova in the Pinwheel galaxy?
If you want to catch a glimpse of supernova SN 2023ixf, our guide to the best telescopes and best telescopes for beginners is a great place to start. Make sure you get the right telescope lens! A wide-angle lens with a lower magnification should do the trick.
And if you want to take pictures of a supernova, the Pinwheel galaxy, or the night sky in general, check out our guides to the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography.
Currently known as SN 2023ixf, the supernova is one of the largest and brightest supernovae of the past decade. Although they are not visible to the naked human eye, they can be clearly seen with small binoculars or even high-magnification binoculars. It is located in the Messier 101 (or M101) galaxy, also known as the Pinkiere Galaxy, and has quickly become a favorite target for amateur astronomers and their professional colleagues.
Burley believes it will “keep its present luster for a long time, maybe a few months”. Then the supernova begins to fade. “Over the course of the next year, two or three, we will finally have low detection again,” Burley said.
Most type II supernovae, like SN 2023ixf, stay bright for about 100 days before they decay, says Peter Brown, a Texas A&M supernova researcher.
However, according to Brown, the new explosion is a little different from its predecessors. Most type II supernovae fall sharply into the ultraviolet region immediately upon detection, but SN 2023ixf has been consistently bright, saturated observations using NASA’s Swift Multiwavelength Telescope.
“Because it’s different, it might run out in the future,” Brown said. “But it could still be bright enough for an amateur astronomer with a good telescope to see for several months.”
A supernova glows when material ejected from a star interacts with its surroundings. So even as it begins to fade, SN 2023ixf may glow temporarily as it interacts with the dense clouds or shells surrounding the dying star.
Even if it is no longer visible in visible wavelengths, the supernova will likely continue to shine in other parts of the spectrum. According to Brown, large telescopes should be able to observe the new discovery for years, while space instruments such as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope or the James Webb Space Telescope may be able to study the explosion for decades.
However, you probably shouldn’t wait another 12 months to withdraw the scope. Although scientists expect the supernova to survive for some time, there are no guarantees.
“He can still surprise us,” Burley said. “We don’t know for sure.”
Editor’s note: If you took a photo of SN 2023ixf and want to share it with Space.com readers, submit your photo(s), comments, name, and location to [email protected] Title.