DR RUDOLPH SCHILD, SMITHSONIAN ASTROPHYS- ICAL OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR RUDOLPH SCHILD, SMITHSONIAN ASTROPHYS- ICAL OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Optical CCD image of spiral galaxy M99 (NGC 4254), showing a new supernova, discovered in 1986, circled in yellow. The incredible brightness of a supernova (the explosion of a giant star) is dem- onstrated by the fact that the supernova is almost as bright as the two stars at upper & lower left of M99; these stars are foreground stars within our own galaxy, whereas M99 is a member of the Virgo cluster of galaxies some 50 million light years away. The picture was made with a CCD (charge-coupled device) camera mounted on a telescope at the Whipple Observatory, Arizona. A CCD is a type of light-sensitive silicon chip.
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