Fading Supernova Seen In Lopsided Spiral Galaxy
March 20, 2013

New Image Shows Lopsided Spiral Galaxy Featuring Supernova

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Astronomers studying a violent explosion located 35 million light-years away from Earth in spiral galaxy NGC 1637 have provided a new view of the cosmic beauty.

The team used the European Space Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile to provide the new image.

Scientists first reported the discovery of the supernova SN 1999em in the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 back in 1999. SN1999em was discovered by the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, California. The telescope had been specially built to search for these cosmic objects. Follow-up observations were performed to help confirm the discovery.

[ Watch the Video: Zooming in on the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 ]

Astronomers have been tracking the brightness of the supernova since its explosion 14 years ago. After making the follow-up observations, the group of astronomers took many pictures of this object with the VLT, which were combined to provide this very clear image of its host galaxy NGC 1637.

The spiral galaxy looks like a fairly symmetrical object, but after a closer inspection, NGC 1637 shows off a few interesting features. Astronomers classify the galaxy as a lopsided spiral galaxy because the relatively loosely wound spiral arm at the top left of the nucleus stretches around it further than the more compact and shorter arm at the bottom right.

In January, researchers said they discovered the largest known spiral galaxy in the entire universe. NGC 6827 is 522,000 light-years across is located about 212 million light years from Earth in the constellation of Pavo.

SN 1999em is a core-collapse supernova classified as a Type IIp. The "p" on this type of supernova stands for plateau due to the supernova's relatively long period of time after maximum brightness.

Supernova 1999em is a very old galaxy compared to one NASA's Swift space observatory picked up during an extensive X-ray survey of the Milky Way. NASA said astronomers discovered what it believes to be one of the youngest known supernova at 2,500 years old .

“Astronomers have previously cataloged more than 300 supernova remnants in the galaxy,” lead scientist Mark T. Reynolds, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “Our analysis indicates that G306.3—0.9 is likely less than 2,500 years old, making it one of the 20 youngest remnants identified.”

[ Watch the Video: A close look at the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 ]