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Today’s pretty space picture

ESA photo march 08.jpg

“NGC 2397, pictured in this image from Hubble, is a classic spiral galaxy with long prominent dust lanes along the edges of its arms, seen as dark patches and streaks silhouetted against the starlight.”

This image was requested by astronomers at Queen’s University Belfast for a study of supernovae. It includes a view of supernova SN 2006bc taken when its brightness is decreasing.

The Queen’s team will tell this week’s National Astronomy Meeting that it seems stars with masses seven times the mass of the Sun can explode as supernovae while the most massive stars “may collapse to form black holes either without producing a supernova or by producing one that is too faint to observe”.

ESA press release.

Image: NASA, ESA & Stephen Smartt (Queen’s University Belfast, UK)

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