A Dramatic Demise

Some of the most dramatic events in the Universe occur when certain stars die — and explode catastrophically in the process.

Such explosions, known as supernovae, mainly occur in a couple of ways: either a massive star depletes its fuel at the end of its life, become dynamically unstable and unable to support its bulk, collapses inwards, and then violently explodes; or a white dwarf in an orbiting stellar couple syphons more mass off its companion than it is able to support, igniting runaway nuclear fusion in its core and beginning the supernova process. Both types result in an intensely bright object in the sky that can rival the light of a whole galaxy.

In the last 20 years the galaxy NGC 5468, visible in this image, has hosted a number of observed supernovae of both the aforementioned types: SN 1999cp, SN 2002cr, SN2002ed, SN2005P, and SN2018dfg. Despite being just over 130 million light-years away, the orientation of the galaxy with respect to us makes it easier to spot these new ‘stars’ as they appear; we see NGC 5468 face on, meaning we can see the galaxy’s loose, open spiral pattern in beautiful detail in images such as this one from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Riess et al.

Acknowledgements: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)

About the Image

Id:potw1948a
Type:Observation
Release date:2 December 2019, 06:00
Size:3979 x 3897 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 5468
Type:Local Universe : Star : Evolutionary Stage : Supernova
Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
Distance:130 million light years
Constellation:Virgo
Category:Galaxies
Stars

Image Formats

Large JPEG
5.7 MB
Screensize JPEG
364.6 KB

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397.6 KB
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644.8 KB
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966.2 KB
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1.5 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):14 6 35.01
Position (Dec):-5° 27' 15.72"
Field of view:2.62 x 2.57 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 157.7° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
Long Pass
350 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
H
1.6 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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