M101 is one of the closest spiral galaxies to the Milky Way, only about 20 million light years away.
On the night of August 24, the automatic software of the Palomar Transient Factory detected a change in its latest image of the galaxy.
The PTF team sent out an alert right away via The Astronomer's Telegram .
Many professional and amateur astronomers around the world turned their eyes to M101:
Image courtesy of Rick Johnson
At the RIT Observatory, I've been following SN 2011fe since August 25. My goal is to make measurements of the light curve of this Type Ia supernova.
The AAVSO provides measurements of some nearby comparison stars in the standard BVRI passbands, so that all I have to do is to measure how bright the SN is compared to the other stars.
Over the past 6 weeks, the SN has grown brighter, peaking at about magnitude V = 10 -- making it the brightest Type Ia SN since 1972E --
.... and then declining afterwards; but note the secondary maximum in the I (near-infrared) filter.
This SN is following the usual evolution of a Type Ia SN, as you can see by comparing its light curve to that of another Type Ia which was observed back in 1994.
Since this is the closest and brightest SN Ia in many years, it promises to reveal many secrets to astronomers. We're working hard to study it before it fades away!
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Copyright © Michael Richmond. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.