First Supernova of 1992 Explodes in Southern Sky
ATLANTA (AP) _ The first supernova star explosion reported this year has burst forth in the southern sky, scientists said Tuesday.
The event occurred about 60 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Fornax, said George Sonneborn of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The explosion, too faint to be seen with the naked eye, was discovered by an astronomer in Chile late Friday, Sonneborn told reporters at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
The supernova is of a type scientists call 1a. At least a third and maybe half the 50 or so supernovae discovered last year were of this type, Sonneborn said.
This type of supernova occurs when a ″white dwarf″ star attracts great masses of matter from a companion star. So much material builds up that gravity forces the star to contract rapidly, triggering an explosion that vaporizes the star.