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News Release Archive:

News Release 42 of 1051

December 16, 2015 10:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2015-46

Caught in the Act: Hubble Captures First-Ever Predicted Exploding Star

December 16, 2015: Hubble has captured an image of the first-ever predicted supernova explosion. The reappearance of the supernova dubbed "Refsdal" was calculated by different mass models of a galaxy cluster whose immense gravity is warping the supernova's light as the light travels toward Earth. The supernova was previously seen in November 2014 behind the galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+2223, part of Hubble's Frontier Fields program. Astronomers spotted four separate images of the supernova in a rare arrangement known as an Einstein Cross. This pattern was seen around a galaxy within MACS J1149.5+2223. While the light from the cluster has taken about five billion years to reach us, the supernova itself exploded much earlier, nearly 10 billion years ago. The detection of Refsdal's reappearance served as a unique opportunity for astronomers to test their models of how mass — especially that of mysterious dark matter — is distributed within this galaxy cluster.

For more images and information, visit http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1525.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of California, Berkeley)

Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, and S. Rodney (University of South Carolina) and the FrontierSN team; T. Treu (UCLA), P. Kelly (UC Berkeley) and the GLASS team; J. Lotz (STScI) and the Frontier Fields team; M. Postman (STScI) and the CLASH team; and Z. Levay (STScI)