As if in honor of a holiday marked by millions, this Christmas a brand new star appeared in the heavens.
Slooh will broadcast live views of the galaxy and its “new star” on December 29th at 2:30PM EST / 11:30 PST / 19:30UTC (International Times). Paul Cox, Slooh’s Community Manager, said “We’ll be using the telescopes Slooh members control every night from the comfort of their own homes to view this amazing Christmas discovery by Emmanuel in what is one of the most beautiful galaxies in the night sky.” Following Tuesday’s back-to-basics discussion, Slooh will host a second show at the same time the following week, when we’ll know exactly what kind of nova Emmanuel has discovered.
This is the second nova Emmanuel has discovered with the Slooh telescopes, but the fact that this new star appeared on Christmas Day makes it extra special. Conseil said “The object was there on my images on Christmas Day, but not there on the 24th. It’s pretty new!”.
The discovery report was sent to the IAU (International Astronomical Union) who sent out a call for follow-up observations by other astronomers. Over the following nights, several amateur astronomers were able to confirm the discovery. Conseil told other Slooh members “It’s now time to get a spectrum to determine which type of nova it is.”
A “nova”, or “new star”, is a huge nuclear explosion caused by a white dwarf star robbing a neighbouring star of material (mainly Hydrogen). Cox said, “When the star accumulates sufficient material from its companion star, a runaway nuclear fusion reaction takes place, blasting the material into space.” A rapid brightening of the star occurs and usually continues for a few weeks.
The Triangulum Galaxy, though average-sized, is one of the more spectacular spiral galaxies known. “This is one of the most beautiful galaxies to view live through Slooh’s telescopes,” said Cox, adding, “and it’s a firm favourite for Slooh members using the telescopes based at our flagship observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands. The numerous star-forming regions and dense regions of pink and blue knots are simply stunning.” The Triangulum Galaxy is the most distant object that can be seen with the naked eye, although you need unpolluted skies and good eyesight to spot the small fuzzy patch. Slooh will tell viewers where to look during their broadcast.
He went on to say “This isn’t the first discovery members have made using the telescopes at the Canary Islands and Chile observatories. Emmanuel has another nova discovery, and other members have had countless first confirmation images of novae, supernovae, comets and Near-Earth Asteroids.” Talking about the scientific contribution amateurs can make Cox said “Astronomy remains the science where amateurs can contribute valuable scientific work. In fact, many amateur astronomers know more about some topics than some of the pros. They certainly have far greater access to telescopes than their professional counterparts.”