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Supernova: Hubble captures stunning video of the death throes of a star

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured the explosive final moments of a star as it goes supernova in a galaxy 70 million light years from the Earth.

Astronomers from Johns Hopkins University used images from the space telescope to track the fading light of the supernova to the spiral galaxy NGC 2525.   

The supernova, formally known as SN2018gv, was first spotted in mid-January 2018 in the constellation of Puppis in the Southern Hemisphere.

The team created a time-lapse video using images of the supernova taken between February 2018 and February 2019 and show it gradually fading to obscurity.

At its peak the explosion would have been up to five billion times brighter than the Sun, eclipsing all other stars and galaxies around it. 

This is the captivating galaxy NGC 2525. Located nearly 70 million light-years from Earth. Hubble has captured a series of images of NGC2525 as part of one of its major investigations measuring the expansion rate of the universe. The supernova can be seen on the left

The supernova, within galaxy NGC 2525, appeared like a very bright star located on the outer edge of one of its spiral arms when it was first observed. 

Astronomers working on a project to measure the expansion rate of the universe first pointed Hubble towards the supernova in February 2018.

Supernovae like this one can be used as cosmic tape measures, allowing astronomers to calculate the distance to their galaxies.  

Nobel Laureate Adam Riess from John Hopkins University used this supernova as a 'candle' to mark a point in space as part of the measurement of the expansion rate.

'No Earthly fireworks display can compete with this supernova, captured in its fading glory by the Hubble Space Telescope,' Riess said.

Supernovae are powerful explosions which mark the end of a star's life and this explosion is what is known as a Type 1a supernova.

This type of cosmic firework display originates from a white dwarf star that is in a close binary system accreting material from its companion star. 

If the white dwarf reaches a critical mass  - 1.44 times the mass of our Sun - then its core becomes hot enough to ignite carbon fusion.

This triggers a runaway process that fuses large amounts of oxygen and carbon together in a matter of seconds and the energy released 'tears the star apart'.

Pictured here is the region surrounding NGC 2525. Located nearly 70 million light-years from Earth, this galaxy is part of the constellation of Puppis in the southern hemisphere

On the left of this image a brilliant supernova is clearly visible in the image. The supernova is formally known as SN2018gv and was first spotted in mid-January 2018

Matter is ejected from the star in a violent explosion - reaching speeds of up to 6 per cent of the speed of light and emitting huge amounts of radiation.  

Type Ia supernovae consistently reach a peak brightness of 5 billion times brighter than our Sun before fading over time.

TYPE 1A SUPERNOVA: AN EXPLOSIVE END TO A BINARY PAIRING

Supernova come in different types, from the explosion of a supergiant star to a star found in a binary system.

Type 1a supernovae involve a white dwarf in a close binary pairing with another star.

This type of cosmic firework display kick stars as the white dwarf accretes material from its companion star. 

If the white dwarf reaches a critical mass  - 1.44 times the mass of our Sun - then its core becomes hot enough to ignite carbon fusion.

This triggers a runaway thermonuclear process that fuses large amounts of oxygen and carbon together in a matter of seconds.

The energy released tears the star apart in a violent explosion.

Matter is ejected at speeds up to 6 per cent of the speed of light.

This matter also emits huge amounts of radiation.

Type Ia supernovae consistently reach a peak brightness of 5 billion times brighter than our Sun.

Then they begin to fade over time into relative obscurity. 

Because supernovae of this type produce this fixed brightness, they are useful tools for astronomers, known as 'standard candles', which act as cosmic tape measures. 

Knowing the actual brightness of the supernova and observing its apparent brightness in the sky, astronomers can calculate the distance to these grand spectacles and therefore their galaxies. 

Riess and his team combined the distance measurements from the supernovae with distances calculated using variable stars known as Cepheid variables. 

Cepheid variables pulsate in size, causing periodic changes in brightness. 

As this period is directly related to the star's brightness, astronomers can calculate the distance to them.

The team are interested in accurately measuring the distance to these galaxies since it helps them better constrain the expansion rate of the universe.

This expansion rate is also known as the Hubble constant. 

This value accounts for how fast the universe is expanding depending on its distance from us, with more distant galaxies moving faster away from us. 

Since it launched, NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope has helped dramatically improve the precision of the Hubble constant. 

Results from the same observing program led by Riess have now reduced the uncertainty of their measurement to an unprecedented 1.9 per cent. 

Further measurements of the galaxy the supernova was found in will contribute to their goal of reducing the uncertainty down to 1 per cent.

Achieving this goal will allow them to pinpoint how fast the universe is expanding. 

A more accurate Hubble constant may uncover clues about the invisible dark matter and mysterious dark energy that make up the majority of our universe.   

NASAs Hubble Space Telescope is still working and has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990

The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

It is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889.

He is arguably most famous for discovering that the universe is expanding and the rate at which is does so - now coined the Hubble constant. 

The Hubble telescope is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)

Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific papers.

It orbits Earth at a speed of about 17,000mph (27,300kph) in low Earth orbit at about 340 miles in altitude.

Hubble has the pointing accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt's head on a dime roughly 200 miles (320km) away.

The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for coming up with the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all-time

Hubble's primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across and in total is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long - the length of a large school bus.

Hubble's launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo's telescope. 

Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same. 

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