New Supernova Lights Up Leo

by Tammy Plotner on November 6, 2010

A new supernova? Darn right. Lighting up Leo? Well… not without some serious visual aid, but the fact that someone out there is watching and has invited us along for the ride is mighty important. And just who might that someone be? None other than Tim Puckett.

Less than 24 hours ago, the American Association of Variable Star Observer’s Report #222 stated:

“Bright Supernova in UGC 5189A: SN 2010jl
November 5, 2010

We have been informed by Tim Puckett and by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBET 2532, Daniel W. E. Green, Ed.) of the discovery of a bright supernova in UGC 5189A by J. Newton and Puckett, Portal, AZ, on November 3.52 UT at unfiltered magnitude 13.5. Confirming images (limiting magnitude 19.1) by Puckett on Nov. 4.50 UT showed the object at magnitude 12.9.

Spectroscopic observations (CBET 2536, Daniel W. E. Green, Ed.) by S. Benetti and F. Bufano, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, on behalf of a larger collaboration, and by J. Vinko, University of Szeged, G. H. Marion, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and University of Texas, T. Pritchard, Pennsylvania State University, and J. C. Wheeler and E. Chatzopoulos, University of Texas, show that SN 2010jl is a type-IIn supernova. Vinko et al. also report that simultaneous measurements with Swift/UVOT in the ultraviolet bands confirm that the transient is ultraviolet-bright, as expected for young, interacting supernovae.

Coordinates: 09 42 53.33 +09 29 41.8 (J2000.0) This position is 2.4″ east and 7.7″ north of the center of UGC 5189A. This AAVSO Special Notice was prepared by Elizabeth O. Waagen.”


While magnitude 12-12.9 isn’t unaided eye bright by a long shot, it’s well within the reach of most of today’s backyard telescopes. The image you see here on the right is of UGC 5189A before the event and the lefthand image was taken at the time of the supernova report. Visually the SN event outshines the galaxy! While chasing a faint supernova event might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Mr. Puckett’s devotion is absolutely legendary and I strongly encourage you to have a look if you have the the tools and talent.

So many supernovae… So little time!

About 

Tammy is a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status.

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