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Waspie_Dwarf

The supernova that cried wolf

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The supernova that cried wolf

Astronomers are announcing today that a massive star, which they have watched repeatedly mimic a supernova since 2009, has finally exploded for real. The report is being presented to the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, CA, by Dr. Jon Mauerhan of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, in collaboration with Dr. Nathan Smith, also of the University of Arizona, and Dr. Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley. The result is of special interest because it provides new critical information on the final death throes of massive stars in the years leading up to their explosion. The work has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The object is SN 2009ip, a luminous extragalactic transient first detected in 2009 in the spiral galaxy NGC 7259, which lies 67 million light-years away in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. Soon after discovery in 2009, the outburst of SN 2009ip was actually recognized to be a non-terminal event, one in which the culprit star survived.

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Sometimes death is a process.

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