SN 2013cu

A star in a distant galaxy explodes as a supernova: while observing a galaxy known as UGC 9379 (left; image from the Sloan digital Sky Survey; SDSS) located about 350 million light years away from us, the team discovered a new source of bright blue light (right, marked with an arrow; image from the 60" robotic telescope at Palomar Observatory). This white-hot young supernova marked the explosive death of a massive star in that distant galaxy. A detailed study of the spectrum (the distribution of colors composing the light from the supernova) using a technique called "flash spectroscopy" revealed the signatures of a wind blown by the aging star just prior to its terminal explosion, and allowed to determine what elements were abundant on the surface of the dying star as it was about to explode as a supernova, providing important information about how massive stars evolve just prior to their death, and the origin of crucial elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Courtesy of Avishay Gal-Yam of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

SN 2013cu