Irishman Dave Grennan made a historic celestial discovery from his back garden in April 2014 and celebrated his find with a cup of tea.
The 42-year-old made the discovery with his self-made telescope from his Dublin home on Good Friday when he picked up a 170 million-year-old dying sun 100 times the size of ours.
Speaking to The Irish Examiner he said, “It was 11 o’clock at night when I actually got the first look at this and by 1am I was fairly certain and at that time of night there was nothing else for it but a strong cup of tea."
“What excites me about this one this time is the telescope – I built it myself, right down to the polishing of the lenses.”
Over the last four years the Irishman, who works as a software developer, has discovered three supernovae (exploding stars) from a shed in his yard.
The latest discovery was confirmed over the weekend by the International Astronomical Union, which gave it the unique name Supernova 2014as.
Grennan made the first discovery of a supernova from Irish soil in 2010 and two years before that he discovered an asteroid – a minor planet ten feet wide – and named it after his late mother, Catherine Griffin, who encouraged his interest in the stars when he was a boy.
David Moore, head of Astronomy Ireland, said, “He’s certainly Ireland’s most prolific supernova hunter.”
Grennan explained, "A Supernova represents the dying moment of a Sun just like our own which explodes in a spectacularly violent manner.
"Even though this explosion happened 170 million years ago, only now is the light reaching our planet."This particular explosion was caused when a star is robbed of its fuel by a nearby companion star. Without fuel it is unable to support it’s own weight and its core collapses causing an explosion which literally blow the star out of existence. Astronomers believe that explosions such may be leave behind ‘Black Holes’, regions of space so dense that even light itself can’t escape."
Grennan added, "Supernova explosions are important, in that they help astronomers to get a better handle on just how old our universe really is and more importantly, what will be its final outcome. There is probably no bigger question in science."
*Originally published April 2014.