An amateur astronomer from Raheny in Dublin has discovered a supernova from the observatory he built in his backyard. This is the second supernova that David Grennan has discovered.
Grennan told TheJournal.ie “I danced a little jig. It was half eleven on Monday night when the International Astronomical Union issued an electronic telegram to astronomers all over the world announcing the discovery.
“There was lots of hugs and kisses here. My poor little dog Charlie is still looking at me: we only got him a few weeks ago, he’s a rescue dog, and he got lots of hugs too.”
According to Irish broadcaster TV3’s reports, spotting a supernova (an explosion of stars) requires a great deal of patience and very sophisticated equipment.
David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine said, “A supernova is the biggest explosion in the universe, after the Big Bang."
"It would be like billions of Earth's exploding all at once in an unimaginably violent event that would wipe out all life on our planet if it happened to any of the stars near our Sun. To discover such an event - not to mention two! - from Irish soil is a truly remarkable feat!"
The explosion Grenna spotted happened 123 million years ago, in a galaxy in the constellation Lynx, 123 million light years away.
This explosion was caused by a giant star which was unable to burn more fuel in its nuclear core. It eventually collapsed under its own weight and threw vast amounts of matter, heat and energy into space.
The International Astronomical Union has formally designated this celestial explosion with the title "Supernova 2012ej".
Read more: Irish astronomer discovers a supernova from his backyard in Dublin