In DepthAstronomy

Supernova breaks the mold

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Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 993
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6200.993

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Following a serendipitous discovery in January, astronomers have been studying closely a supernova, now dubbed SN 2014J, in the nearby galaxy M82. The first type Ia supernova in 42 years close enough to be scrutinized at a wide range of wavelengths, it is providing a rare chance to find out what causes these violent explosions. Type Ia supernovae are especially important to astronomers because their uniform brightness has led to their use as "standard candles" for measuring the distance of remote galaxies. New results from observations of SN 2014J confirm that it is powered by a runaway fusion reaction, but the cause of the blast remains unclear.