What a Brilliant Flash in a Distant Galaxy Can Tell Us
Every once in a while I see a posting by an astronomer who has discovered something unique. The latest one is from Dr. Melissa Graham (@mlg3k) at the University of California-Berkeley. She was working with some colleagues on a project called the Hubble Frontier supernova survey and spotted the telltale “light-up” of a Type Ia supernova in a view of a galaxy cluster some 6 billion light-years away. For her work, not only does Melissa get a great discovery, but she gets to name the supernova. The usual practice for the Hubble Frontier Field survey is to use Star Trek names, so she called her object SN Crusher, which is pretty darned cool. (Its official title is HFF15Cru.) And, lots of folks are taking notice, including actor Wil Wheaton (@WilW), who played Wesley Crusher. He caught the news, and congratulated Dr. Graham on her finding! He also let his “Trek” mom (Gates McFadden, who played Dr. Beverly Crusher) know, as well. It all played out on Twitter, where I happened to catch Dr. Graham’s first announcement.
What’s a Type Ia Supernova?
Artist’s concept of a binary system, with material ...