500-million-year-old event observed by the ESA’s Gaia Spacecraft
Less than two months after its scientific work began on the 25th of July, the ESA’s Gaia spacecraft has spotted its first supernova. The event, now named Gaia14aaa, took place in a distant galaxy some 500 million light-years away and is believed to be the end of a white dwarf life cycle.
“This is the first supernova in what we expect to be a long series of discoveries with Gaia,” says Timo Prusti, ESA’s Gaia Project Scientist.
In addition to having built the spacecraft’s guidance and control systems, the UK also hosts the Cambridge data processing centre where images from the Gaia spacecraft are sent for processing.
The brightness, colour, and position information provided then enable scientists to determine the distance, motion and intrinsic properties of far-off stars.
“This kind of repeated survey comes in handy for studying the changeable nature of the sky,” said Simon Hodgkin from the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.
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