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July 10, 2009

The Farthest Ever Supernova Discovered

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, discovered the farthest supernova. The new technique they used involved stacking many images on top of each other to bring out dimmer objects. The supernova they saw was around 11.4 BILLION light years away! Jeff Cooke, McCue Postdoctoral Fellow in physics & astronomy, said, "The universe is about 13.7 billion years old, so really we are seeing some of the first stars ever formed".

A light year is unit of distance. It is how far light travels in one year. Light is really fast; in one year it travels about 5,878,786,100,000 miles (almost 6 trillion). The other cool thing is that because it takes time for the light to get to us, we are looking back in time. A supernova is the explosive death of a large star as it runs out of fuel. This supernova was part of the first generation of supernova ever.

Source- UC Irvine
Image Credit- NASA/Swift/Skyworks Digital/Dana Berry