Hubble has captured an image of the first-ever predicted supernova explosion.
In November 2014, Hubble’s Frontier Fields program caught sight of a supernova called “Refsdal” while examining the MACS J1149.5+2223 galaxy cluster. Astronomers spotted four separate images of the supernova in a rare arrangement known as an “Einstein Cross” around a galaxy within the cluster.
The four images of the same supernova result from the way light from distant objects is not just magnified but bent by the immense mass of the galaxy cluster. (Link: http://frontierfields.org/2014/07/09/seeing-double-or-more-in-frontier-fields-images/)
Seeing such distant, gravitationally lensed objects is, of course, the point of the Frontier Fields project, but this one had a special quirk. By studying different models of just how mass is positioned in the galaxy cluster, astronomers could predict one more light path for Refsdal, one that would delay the light reaching the telescope until late 2015 or early 2016. This means they could predict when and where in the field the image of the supernova would appear next.
Astronomers began taking snapshots of the predicted area over an expected time period. And sure enough, on Dec. 11, 2015, the astronomers captured the reappearance of the supernova where they had anticipated ...