Supernova Explosion Discovered by Fluke

The light from an exploding star in the Messier 82 (aka "Cigar") galaxy was first photographed from Earth on January 22nd, 2013. 

The light from an exploding star in the Messier 82 (aka "Cigar") galaxy was first photographed from Earth on January 22nd, 2013. The galaxy is ~12 million light years away so the explosion occurred about 12 million years ago.


A new supernova has not been observed so close to our solar system in over 20 years. This one was discovered by students and staff at the University of London Observatory. According to a press release, the discovery was a fluke

"The weather was closing in, with increasing cloud," explains Dr Steve Fossey, "so instead of the planned practical astronomy class, I gave the students an introductory demonstration of how to use the CCD camera on one of the observatory’s automated 0.35–metre telescopes."

The students happened to choose M 82, since it was in one of the shrinking patches of clear sky. "While adjusting the telescope’s position," the press release reads, "Fossey noticed a ‘star’ overlaid on the galaxy which he did not recognize."

Watch here:

According to the astronomer Ray Jayawardhana, the supernova was "too far *and* of the wrong type" for neutrino detection. 

Watch Jayawardhana explain how a supernova might be identified via neutrino detection in the video here:

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less