Researchers find supernova that's just 140 years old

RALEIGH — A scientist at North Carolina State University has discovered the youngest known supernova in our galaxy. It's only 140 years old, NCSU announced Wednesday.

Previously, the youngest supernova, or exploding star, in the Milky Way galaxy dates back to 1680 — making it more than twice as old as the latest discovery, according to NASA.

Stephen Reynolds, an astrophysicist, led a team of researchers who compared images of a celestial object in the Milky Way — scientists call it G1.9+0.3 — taken last year and in 1985. That confirmed Reynolds' theory that the object was the remnant of a young supernova.

The comparison also showed that it had increased in size by 16 percent during that 22-year span, enabling scientists to calculate that the initial explosion occurred, at most, 140 years ago. If the rate of expansion slowed down over the years, it's even younger.

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