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Rare Supernova Birth Explosion Witnessed by Astronomers

Physics professor Andy Howell is one of the leaders of a team that discovered supernova PTF 11kly - in the Pinwheel Galaxy located in the “Big Dipper” - when its explosion was witnessed in August 2011. Roughly 21 million light years away, astronomers say this is closer to Earth than any other of its kind in a generation. Scientists at UCSB-affiliated Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) got a rare glimpse into the birth of a supernova, which reaches the brightness of more than a billion suns within three weeks after explosion.

It was discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) survey, which uses the Robotic telescopes at LCOGT to scan the sky nightly and alert observers when something has changed. It is designed to observe and uncover astronomical events as they happen.

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