'Death of an old star'

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London, May 22: An international team of astronomers have witnessed one of the the Universe's mightiest and most fiery event-- a dying star erupting into a supernova. The death of the star has been witnessed as it occurred for the first time. Galaxies typically host a supernova only once or twice every century, making it nearly impossible to record one as it turns into a fleeting supernova that will shine brighter than billions of stars combined.

NASA's Swift satellite has for the first time caught a normal supernova at the moment of its birth. ''We usually only get to see them a good few days after they exploded, usually when they go bright at optical wavelengths,'' the Telegraph quoted Dr Kim Page as saying. This time, however, the scientists were able to up a tell- tale burst of X rays, which occured at the outset. Thanks to a satellite, ''we got on to it in nine seconds,'' Dr Page added.

This new supernova, named SN2008D is closer to Earth - at 90 million light years - than any type of supernova ever observed in the act of exploding.


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