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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 66 | April 27 , 2008|


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Science Feature

Echo of Ancient Cosmic Explosion Seen

-Dave Mosher

HUGE explosions on Earth may be one-time deals, but their resounding echoes can give us another bang for us if conditions are right.

Strangely, the same is true in the depths of space.

Astronomers recently captured a supernova's blinding flash "echoing" off dust 400 light-years from the detonation site in the Large Magellanic Cloud which means Earthly observers may have seen the original blast 400 years ago. Because a star's death rattle produced the light, scientists can use the new observations to effectively peer into the past.

"We have a chance here to see the supernova in both the past and the present," said Armin Rest, an astronomer at Harvard University who co-authored one of two new studies on supernovae. "We can see light from the blast bouncing off of dust, and we can also see the supernova remnants. It's kind of like having a time machine."

Rest and other astronomers used NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory, Europe's XMM-Newton observatory and the Gemini observatory to gather their findings, detailed in two studies in a recent issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Source : space.com

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