May 21, 2008 3:42 PM

For first time, astronomers witness a star explode and die

The remnants of thousands of supernovas have been seen before, but, thanks to a lucky break, astronomers in January witnessed the actual explosion of a supernova — a star's final burst of energy before it collapses in on itself. The star-burst lasted only five minutes, but it shone brighter than a billion normal stars combined.

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