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In Brief

Remnant Found From Supernova That Appeared but Went Unreported in 1250

November 12, 1998

Astrophysicists have found a remnant from what would have been the biggest, brightest explosion in the galaxy, a supernova that appeared in AD 1250, but there is no historical record of it ever being seen, two teams report in today's issue of the journal Nature. That is perplexing because someone, somewhere should have seen it. "It should have outshone everything in the sky, every star and every planet except the moon," said Bernd Aschenbach of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

The supernova, about 650 light-years from Earth, is the closest such remnant found in our galaxy. Although there are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, no one has witnessed a supernova visible to the naked eye for 400 years. Only about 200 supernova remnants have been found and only six are less than 1,000 years old.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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