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Dublin man discovers second supernova


David Grennan, an amateur astronomer from North Dublin, has discovered a supernova from his observatory in Raheny.

This is the second supernova to have been discovered from Ireland - the first was also discovered by Grennan in 2010 - and required lots of patience and some of the most sophisticated equipment in Irish hands.

"A supernova is the biggest explosion in the universe, after the Big Bang," explained David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine. "It would be like billions of Earth's exploding all at once in an unimaginably violent event that would wipe out all life on our planet if it happened to any of the stars near our Sun. To discover such an event - not to mention two! - from Irish soil is a truly remarkable feat!"

The explosion took place 123 million years ago, in a galaxy in the constellation Lynx, 123 million light years away. It was caused by a giant star unable to burn any more fuel in its nuclear core, and finally collapsing under its own weight, throwing vast amounts of matter, heat and energy into space.

The International Astronomical Union has formally designated this celestial explosion "Supernova 2012ej".