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News Release 23 of 34

March 22, 2009 02:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2009-13

Hubble Uncovers an Unusual Stellar Progenitor to a Supernova

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Image: Hubble Finds Rare Progenitor to a Supernova

Hubble Finds Rare Progenitor to a SupernovaSTScI-PRC2009-13

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

Archival photographs from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have been used to uncover the progenitor star to a supernova that exploded in 2005. To the surprise of astronomers, the progenitor is a rare class of ultra-bright star that, according to theory, shouldn't explode so early in its evolution.

[Top Center] This is a 2005 ground-based photograph of the supernova as seen in host galaxy NGC 266, located in the constellation Pisces.

Credit: Puckett Observatory

[Bottom Left] This is a 1997 Hubble archival visible-light image of the region of the galaxy where the supernova exploded. The white circle marks a star that Hubble measured to have an absolute magnitude of -10.3. This corresponds to the brightness of 1 million suns (at the galaxy's distance of 215 million light-years).

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Gal-Yam (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)

[Bottom Center] This is a near-infrared-light photo of the supernova explosion taken on Nov. 11, 2005, with the Keck telescope, using adaptive optics. The blast is centered on the position of the progenitor.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Gal-Yam (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel), D. Leonard (San Diego State University), and D. Fox (Penn State University)

[Bottom Right] This is a visible-light Hubble follow-up image taken on September 26, 2007. Note that a bright source near the site of the supernova can be seen in all three panels, but the progenitor star is gone. The Hubble pictures from both epochs were taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Gal-Yam (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)

Object Names: SN 2005gl, NGC 266

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Gal-Yam (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Ground-based Image of NGC 266 with SN 2005gl Image Type: Astronomical Ground-based Image of NGC 266 with SN 2005gl 1997 HST WFPC2 Image of Progenitor Star of SN 2005gl Image Type: Astronomical 1997 HST WFPC2 Image of Progenitor Star of SN 2005gl 2005 Keck Adaptive Optics Image of SN 2005gl in NGC 266 Image Type: Astronomical 2005 Keck Adaptive Optics Image of SN 2005gl in NGC 266 2007 HST WFPC2 Image of Region Near SN 2005gl -- Progenitor is Gone. Image Type: Astronomical 2007 HST WFPC2 Image of Region Near SN 2005gl -- Progenitor is Gone.

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