An exceptionally bright supernova that baffled scientists has been explained. It is so luminous because a galaxy sitting in front amplifies its light – making it appear 100 billion times more dazzling than our Sun. This cosmic magnifying glass lay hidden between Earth and the supernova – and has now been detected with a telescope in Hawaii. The discovery, reported in the journal Science, settles an important controversy in the field of astronomy.
In 2010, a team of scientists observed the supernova, PS1-10afx, shining 30 times brighter than any other in its class. They concluded it was a completely new type of stellar explosion. But while there are a few, rare supernovas that have been found with comparable luminosities, there was something odd about this one, according to Dr Robert Quimby of the University of Tokyo’s Kavli Institute.
“PS1-10afx was different in just about every way. It evolved too fast, its host galaxy is too big, and it was way, way too red,” he explained.
His team had another idea. They ventured that PS1-10afx was a normal Type Ia supernova magnified by a lens in the form of a massive object, such as supermassive black hole, nearby. More here Mystery of dazzling supernova solved.