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Amateur Astronomer Spots Bright Supernova

September 04, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Astronomers have discovered the brightest supernova in a decade, an exploding star as bright as 200 million suns.

Japanese amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki discovered the supernova on July 31 with a small telescope. Astronomers subsequently turned the Hubble Space Telescope toward the star, 11 million light-years from Earth on the fringes of a galaxy called NGC 2403.

The supernova is nestled in a cluster of massive bright blue stars 14 million years old and probably has about 15 times the mass of our sun.

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