A New Supernova Sighted in Nearest Galaxy to Milky Way

Gal-Yam A new star (left) was observed in the night sky by amateur astronomers in France, and soon after it was detected by the PTF Sky Survey between May 31 and June 1 in a spiral arm of our galaxy's close neighbor, M51.

The phenomenon was also photographed in the new Martin Kraar Observatory at the Weizmann Institute, as well as in Tel Aviv University's Wise Observatory in Mitzpe Ramon.

The new supernova is being studied by an international team of researchers, including Dr. Avishay Gal-Yam and his research team, Drs. Ofer Yaron, David Polishook and Dong Xu, research students Iair Arcavi and Sagi Ben Ami and Director of the Kraar Observatory, Ilan Manulis, all of the Weizmann Institute's Particle Physics and Astrophysics Department, as well as scientists from the US, England, Canada and other countries.

The last supernova observed in M51, 26 million light years away, occurred in 2005. Supernovae are thought to appear about once in 100 years in any given galaxy. The high occurrence in M51 can be explained by its interaction with another, very close galaxy, which causes the process of massive star formation to accelerate, thus increasing the rate of collapse and supernova explosion.

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