Scientists say Caroline Moore, age fourteen, is the youngest person to discover a supernova in a nearby galaxy. They also say it appears to be an extremely rare supernova. Read more about it below, see photos and a video.

SN 2008ha

Caroline Moore’s Supernova

In November of 2008, a 14 year old student from upstate New York named Caroline Moore was looking up at the heavens with her amateur telescope and discovered a new junior-sized supernova that scientists, after careful evaluation, have now named SN 2008ha. Caroline’s supernova, is unique in that it might represent a new class of stellar explosions.

A supernova is, in layman’s terms, an explosion or death of a star. Caroline’s supernova or SN 2008ha is 70 million light years away, appearing very faint from Earth — but is still 25 million times brighter than the sun. It’s about 1,000 times more powerful than a nova explosion, but about 1,000 times weaker in intensity than a supernova, and astronomers believe that this may be the weakest supernova explosion ever seen. Experts estimate that, when it exploded, it shone with the intensity of 25 million Suns. However, on account of the large distance between us and SN 2008ha, the glow appeared very dim through telescope lenses.

The 14 year old’s supernova was discovered using a small telescope, but astronomers used some of the most advanced telescopes we have to determine the specifics of the explosion. Data came from the Magellan telescopes in Chile, the MMT telescope in Arizona, the Gemini and Keck telescopes in Hawaii, and NASA’s Swift satellite.

They say that Caroline’s supernova seems to bridge the gap between novas (which are basically nuclear explosions on the surface of white dwarfs) and supernovas (which are exploded stars, destroyed by a runaway nuclear reaction starting from deep within a white dwarf). It may be, scientists say, that SN 2008ha was about to go supernova, but that the reaction was, for some reason, halted, leading to the “hybrid.”

The story of 14 year old Caroline Moore’s supernova, is really quite awesome because it shows how amateurs still can make contributions in modern astronomy, making it unique among the sciences. You can see other supernova photos and a video below.

Supernova 1Supernova 5Supernova 3Supernova 2Supernova 4
Supernova Photos

Supernova Video
‘Supernova explosion with black hole kick-out’