Amateur Astronomers Capture Spectacular Supernova Explosion in Pinwheel Galaxy

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In a remarkable feat of observation, amateur astronomers from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have captured the stunning explosion of a star in the Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as M101, located approximately 21 million light years away from Earth. The explosion, designated as SN 2023ixf, momentarily outshone the entire galaxy, allowing it to be visible through telescopes on Earth. The team of amateur astronomers, consisting of Fahd Bin Abdul Hasis, Kiran Mohan, and Vishak Sasidharan from the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), utilized a Nikon Z6 II camera equipped with a Samyang 135 mm lens at f2.8 and ISO 1000.

They employed the iOptron SkyGuider Pro as their sky-tracking device to observe the supernova explosion in deep space. By capturing two photographs of the galaxy on May 19 and May 22, they managed to spot the fleeting flash of the exploding star in the frames. Supernovae, which are the most powerful explosions witnessed from Earth, occur when massive stars, at least five times the mass of our Sun, exhaust their nuclear fuel and undergo core collapse. This collapse triggers an immense explosion that can temporarily outshine entire galaxies. The supernova SN 2023ixf has been classified as a type-II supernova, which arises when a massive star with a mass greater than approximately eight times that of the Sun contracts under its own gravity after depleting its nuclear fuel.

Through the process of image processing, the amateur astronomers stacked multiple frames to enhance the details of SN 2023ixf. The Indian Space Research Organisation commended their passion, dedication, and ingenuity, emphasizing that these achievements showcase how certain rare celestial events can be observed and captured even with basic equipment, given the right skills and determination. The captivating capture of this supernova explosion highlights the accessibility of exploring and observing the wonders of the universe for those who dare to delve into its mysteries.

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