Title: Record-Breaking Supernova Captures Attention of Citizen Scientists
Amateur astronomers participating in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute’s (SETI) Cosmic Cataclysms program have made a groundbreaking discovery. They have witnessed the closest cosmic explosion to Earth in the past decade, setting a new record for the institute’s research efforts.
Dubbed (SN) 2023ixf, the supernova was initially spotted by amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki on May 19, 2023. It didn’t take long for the dedicated citizen scientists involved in the Cosmic Cataclysms program, a joint initiative between SETI and Unistellar, to swing into action and begin collecting valuable data on this phenomenon.
The extensive data collected will prove instrumental in unraveling the mysteries surrounding Type II supernovas, which occur when massive stars exhaust their nuclear fusion fuel. Over a span of time, 123 amateur astronomers diligently worked together to make 252 observations using 115 telescopes, precisely tracking the changing brightness of (SN) 2023ixf.
This collaboration has allowed scientists to construct a detailed profile, known as a light curve, for this particular supernova. By analyzing this profile, researchers hope to gain deeper insights into the inner workings of these celestial explosions, enabling them to expand our current understanding of the universe.
The Cosmic Cataclysms program, supported by funding from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, allows citizen scientist astronomers to actively participate in studying and collecting data from transient events like supernovas and gamma-ray bursts. Their contribution to the field has proven invaluable, challenging the conventional notion that astronomical research solely belongs to professionals.
Excitingly, the program is set to be further enhanced next year with the establishment of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. This state-of-the-art facility will offer citizen astronomers an exceptional opportunity to collaborate directly with professionals, pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and discovery even further.
The team’s groundbreaking research on (SN) 2023ixf has been published in the prestigious journal, The Research Notes of the AAS. This accomplishment not only reflects the dedication of amateur astronomers but also highlights the significance of citizen science in advancing our understanding of the cosmos.
As the closest cosmic explosion to Earth in the past decade, (SN) 2023ixf serves as a reminder of the vast potential citizen scientists possess in uncovering the secrets of the universe. With their relentless enthusiasm and growing capabilities, amateur astronomers continue to prove that the wonders of space are accessible to all, regardless of their background or professional qualifications.
“Zombie enthusiast. Subtly charming travel practitioner. Webaholic. Internet expert.”