Feeds

Stargazers spot oldest supernova yet

'I remember when it was all hydrogen around here...'

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Astronomers from the University of California have spied a supernova which lit up the early universe 10.7 billion years ago - 1.5 billion years before the previous record holder and just 3 billions years after the big bang.

A team led by Jeff Cooke spotted the event - a "type II"* supernova provoked by the core collapse of a star 50-100 times more massive than the Sun - in images from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey, which snapped the same four patches of sky over five years using a 3.6-metre telescope.

The 'scope concentrated on small areas of sky - roughly four times the size of the Moon, the Times explains - on around 130 nights of observation between between 2003 and 2007.

By combining all the photos, the atronomers were able to peer back much further into the distant past than previously possible.

Cooke explained: “If you stack all those images in one big pile then you can reach deeper and see fainter objects. It’s a bit like photography when you open the shutter for a long time. You’ll collect more light with a longer exposure.”

The researchers hope the ongoing survey will find other ancient supernovae and "shed light on how the universe became seeded with heavier elements", as New Scientist puts it.

The big bang is thought to have churned out just a few light elements - hydrogen, helium, and lithium - while supernovae took on the job of creating all the other elements which now form the universe.

As New Scientist notes, there are further projects in the pipeline which could use the same multiple imaging technique to peer back to the early universe. The 8.2-metre Subaru telescope in Hawaii should in 2012 be equipped with the splendidly-named Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), while NASA is planning to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2014.

Cooke said: "Using this method, we should be able to see objects much farther away and therefore much farther back in time, and actually see some of the first stars that ever lived."

The team's full findings are published in the current issue of Nature (subscription required). ®

Bootnote

*Characterised by a line of hydrogen in the spectrum. Hydrogen is not present in other types of supernovae.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release
Result? 'Way more carbon being released into the atmosphere as methane'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.