"Assassin" Targets "Local" Supernovae

USA TODAY, June 2015 | Go to article overview

"Assassin" Targets "Local" Supernovae


While many astronomical collaborations use powerful telescopes to target individual objects in the distant universe, a project at Ohio State University, Columbus, is doing something different: employing small telescopes to study a growing portion of the nearby universe all at once. The strategy is paying off. At an American Astronomical Society meeting, researchers reported early successes from the AllSky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) --pronounced "assassin."

Since it officially launched in May 2014, ASAS-SN has detected 89 bright supernovae and counting--more than all other professional astronomical surveys combined. The survey consists of a half-dozen six-inch telescopes--four in Hawaii and two in Chile--and a cadre of telescopes volunteered by amateurs around the world.

Two additional telescopes are set to go online this year and, because the survey is capturing hundreds of other bright, local objects in addition to supernovae, researchers are about to launch a series of spinoff projects, each geared to serve the growing interests of amateurs and professional astronomers alike.

ASAS-SN covers the nearest 500,000,000 light-years around the Milky Way galaxy--about one percent of the observable universe, the edge of which is more than 46,000,000,000 light-years away.

"It's natural to be interested in our local neighborhood. …

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