Supernova could shed light on dark energy

Supernova could shed light on dark energy

Astronomers have spotted the most distant supernova ever seen. Nicknamed “Mingus,” it was described at the 221st American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in the US, according to BBC News.

These lightshows of dying stars have been seen since ancient times, but modern astronomers use details of their light to probe the Universe’s secrets.

Ten billion light-years distant, Mingus will help shed light on so-called dark energy, the force that appears to be speeding up cosmic expansion.

Formally called SN SCP-0401, the supernova was something of a chance find in a survey carried out in part by the Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP) using the Hubble space telescope, first undertaken in 2004. But the data were not good enough to pin down what was seen. As David Rubin of the University of California, told the AAS meeting, “for a sense of brightness, this supernova is about as bright as a firefly viewed from 3,000 miles away.”

Further news had to wait until astronauts installed the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble telescope in 2009 and again trained it on the candidate, which had already been named after jazz musician Charles Mingus.