Saturday, 3 September 2011

Supernova SN 2011fe in M101

Excerpt from the Wikipedia article at SN 2011fe, initially designated PTF 11kly, is a star undergoing a type Ia supernova event, discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) survey on the 24 August 2011 during an automated review of images of the Messier 101 from the nights of the 22nd and 23rd of August 2011. The star, formerly a white dwarf, is located in Messier 101, the Pinwheel Galaxy, 21 million light years from Earth. It was observed by the PTF survey very near the beginning of its supernova event, when it was approximately 1 million times too dim to be visible to the naked eye. It is the youngest type Ia ever discovered.

We took this image on Friday, 26th August from ESAC (2 days after discovery). The supernova is clearly visible in the image (enclosed by a green circle), as shown in the comparison image from the KPNO Schmidt camera. The orientation is standard, i.e. N on top and E to the left. The image was taken with my Celestron 6" Newtonian reflector mounted on the CG5-GT mount and an Orion Starshoot DSI II color camera. The image is the sum of 3 one-minute exposures (we took neither flats nor dark frames but connected the thermoelectric cooler) . The sky quality was very poor due to light pollution (as usual at ESAC).