Astronomers have obtained a never-before achieved radio astronomical photograph of the youngest supernova. Fourteen days after the explosion of a star in the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) 23 million light years from Earth last June. Coordinated telescopes around Europe took a photograph of the cosmic explosion a hundred times greater in detail than that of the Hubble Space Telescope. This technique, known as radio interferometry-- equivalent to seeing a golf ball on the surface of the moon.
"Tthis is the earliest high resolution image of a supernova explosion. From this photograph, we can define the expansion velocity of the shock wave created in the explosion', states Iván Martí from the Institut Max Planck of Radio Astronomy in Bonn (Germany).
Supernovas are one of the most spectacular phenomena in the universe. Antxon Alberdi, from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia states that 'if we are lucky, like we were this time, we can obtain really clear and high resolution images of the supernovas, thanks to the VLBI technique (Very Long Baseline Interferometry).'
The international team that achieved this photograph is already working on new observations. The European VLBI network is a collaboration of radio astronomy institutes around Europe, China and South Africa, and sponsored by the respective national research bodies.