A group of Taiwanese high-school students and their advisers have captured images of an exploding supernova, named SN 2013ej, 15 hours before the Lick Observatory Supernova Search team near San Jose, California confirmed it as a supernova in July, the Taipei City Department of Education said on Saturday.
“Judged by the apparent magnitude, we have taken pictures of an exploding supernova whose luminosity was rising,” National Tsing Hua University’s Institute of Astronomy professor Albert Kong (江國興) was quoted as saying in a press release.
The apparent magnitude of a star is a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth, if there was no atmospheric interference.
Kong said in the statement that the achievement has “a certain degree of scientific value in the research of supernovae.”
Kong is an adviser to Taipei First Girls High School’s science research project, which is funded by the National Science Council in a bid to bring emerging science and technology research into the high-school curriculum.
Touting the Taipei team as the first group in the world to gather the luminosity data of SN 2013ej, the statement said the team took photos of the supernova in the galaxy M74 at the Lulin Observatory in central Taiwan on July 24 at 7:18pm Greenwhich Mean Time, hours before the observatory confirmed it to be a supernova.
In addition to the pictures, the Taipei First team also recorded adjusted luminosity data, the statement added.
Kong said thanks to its early observation, the team obtained its data before the brightness of the supernova reached its maximum degree.
As a result, the data is important for the research of the early stages of an exploding supernova, he said.