Discovery of supernova Gaia14aaa

Discovery of supernova Gaia14aaa

Released

12/09/2014 10:00 am

Copyright

ESA/Gaia/DPAC/Z. Kostrzewa-Rutkowska (Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory) & G. Rixon (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge)

Description

Light curve of galaxy SDSS J132102.26+453223.8 obtained with Gaia. It shows the evolution in time of the galaxy’s brightness. The brightness is indicated on the vertical axis; smaller magnitude values indicate a brighter source.

The light curve shows how the galaxy significantly brightened up between the two consecutive Gaia observations because of a stellar explosion, or supernova, which was named Gaia14aaa. This is the first supernova discovered with Gaia.

The data points and error bars at the lower left corner are from the first observation, performed on 31 July 2014, and they are in line with previous observations of the same galaxy performed with other telescopes. The data points at the upper right corner are from the second observation, performed on 30 August 2014, and reveal a sudden rise in brightness of almost two magnitudes (roughly a factor of 6).

Using data from Gaia and other telescopes, astronomers confirmed that Gaia14aaa is a Type Ia supernova, the explosion of a white dwarf caused by the accretion of matter from a companion star in a binary system.

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