Nearby supernova dazzles astronomers

  • 23 January 2014
Supernova Image copyright UCL

An exploding star has been spotted in the night sky - the closest supernova to Earth that has been seen in decades.

It happened 12 million light years away in Messier 82 - known as the cigar galaxy because of its shape.

A supernova is a violent blast of energy and light that is hurled out as a star dies.

It was discovered by students during a telescope class at the University of London Observatory.

Scientists say it could grow even brighter over the coming weeks, before fading away.

If this happens, stargazers in the northern hemisphere may be able to spot it with binoculars, by looking between the Great Bear and the Little Bear.