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An Unusual Object in Boötes

What exactly is the object recently discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys in the constellation Boötes? If it’s a supernova, it’s an odd one, since it took five times longer (100 days) to reach peak brightness than a normal supernova. In fact, indications are it brightened by a factor of more than 200 since late January. As discussed in a June 19 New Scientist story, its spectrum is unusual, its color has not changed since the first observations came in, and it does not seem to be situated in a host galaxy.

If distance measurements of 5.5 billion light years are accurate, it is also brighter than a Type 1A supernova should be at that distance. Then again, redshift uncertainties make the distance readings problematic. An unusual supernova at a far greater distance, perhaps as much as 12 billion light years? Nobody knows at this point.

The object was flagged by the Supernova Cosmology Project headquartered at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, an online library of whose papers and presentations can be found here. An image and finding chart are also available online (look under ‘Unidentified Transient F-006,’ and thanks to Larry Klaes for the pointer). In the context of our recent discussions of macro-engineering and SETI — and in hopes of discovering a new class of stellar object — it goes without saying that this find will receive scrutiny from many different quarters.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joseph Baneth Allen June 22, 2006, 20:05

    In all likelihood, ‘Unidentified Transient F-006,’ will turn out to be a new class of supernova once astronomers and astrophysicists pinpoint its exact distance with greater accuracy over the course of the next few weeks and months.
    While optical SETI searches are concentrating on artificial light sources near parent stars, no one, to my knowledge has worked out the actual physics of creating an artificial supernova as a means of intersteller and inter-galactic communication. Science fiction author Jack McDevitt has used the idea of creating artificial supernovas as a means for humanity to announce its presence in the universe. Which raises an interesting question: Just how do you go about communicating with a ETI that blows up stars? I would hope very, very cautiously, if at all….

  • ljk June 23, 2006, 14:40

    Who says Unidentified Transient F-006 was done on purpose?

    It may have been one of what Arthur C. Clarke calls an
    “industrial accident”.



  • Arhur C.Clik June 23, 2006, 16:29

    the truth is out there.. why to spend millions dollars searching intelligent life in universe.. if there are here for centuries