Hubble's Curious Case of a Calcium-rich Supernova

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NGC 5714

Hubble shows the spiral galaxy NGC 5714 about 130 million light-years away in the constellation of Boötes (the Herdsman).

Its spiral arms are hard to see as NGC 5714 presents itself at an almost perfectly edge-on angle.

Discovered by William Herschel in 1787, NGC 5714 was host to a fascinating and rare event in 2003. A faint supernova appeared about 8,000 light-years below the central bulge of NGC 5714. Supernovae are the huge, violent explosions of dying stars. It was particularly interesting because its spectrum showed strong signatures of calcium.

Calcium-rich supernovae are rare and hence of great interest to astronomers. Astronomers still struggle to explain these particular explosions as their existence presents a challenge to both observation and theory. In particular, their appearance outside of galaxies, their lower luminosity compared to other supernovae, and their rapid evolution are still open questions for researchers.

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