Oldest & Most Distant Supernovae Discovered

Eta Carinae is seen near the center of this false-color infrared image.  Astronomers hypothesize that Eta Car will explode as a Type IIn supernova in the next million years.  Image credit:  NASA

Eta Carinae is seen near the center of this false-color infrared image. Astronomers hypothesize that Eta Car will explode as a Type IIn supernova in the next million years. Image credit: NASA

By blending images from multiple telescopes, astronomers have been able to discover the oldest and most distant supernovae.  Calculations place the explosions occurring approximately 11 billion years ago and the supernovae are currently 18 billion light years away from Earth.  These supernovae are classified as Type IIn.  These explosions occur when large stars 50 to 100 times the mass of our sun start to die.  The sheer size of these stars creates instability as they die.  For more information on this discovery, see the New Scientist.

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