Home Science A Supernova 2.5 Billion Times Brighter Than the Sun

A Supernova 2.5 Billion Times Brighter Than the Sun

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A Supernova 2.5 Billion Times Brighter Than the Sun

Galaxy UGC 5189A

UGC 5189A, a relatively small galaxy located about 150 million light-years from Earth is featured in the Hubble Space Telescope image. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Filippenko

Hubble’s observations of the galaxy UGC 5189A and the exceptionally bright supernova SN 2010jl provide critical insights into the nature and aftermath of supernovae.

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope features a relatively small galaxy known as UGC 5189A, which is located about 150 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. This galaxy was observed by Hubble to study a supernova explosion in 2010 known as SN 2010jl. This particular supernova was notable for having been an exceptionally luminous supernova event. In fact, over a period of three years, SN 2010jl released at least 2.5 billion times more visible energy alone than our Sun emitted over the same timeframe across all wavelengths.

Even after supernovae have faded to non-observable levels, it can still be of interest to study the environments where they occurred. This can provide astronomers with valuable information: supernovae can take place for a variety of reasons, and understanding the environments in which they took place can help improve our understanding of the conditions necessary for them to be triggered. Furthermore, follow-up studies after supernovae can improve our understanding of the immediate aftermath of such events, from their potent effects on the gas and dust around them, to the stellar remnants they leave behind.

To this end, UGC 5189A has been observed many times by Hubble since 2010. This image is from data collected in three of the latest Hubble studies of UGC 5189A, which also examined several other relatively nearby galaxies that recently hosted supernovae — ‘relatively nearby’, in this context, meaning roughly 100 million light years away.

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