Detecting Supernovae

Figure 1: Before and After images of the 2014 supernova in M82
Credit: Fred Herrmann

Detecting supernovae can be done in several ways. There are some dedicated surveys (such as the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae; ASAS-SN) which just look for objects that have appeared that weren't there in previous images or visits to the same part of the sky. With the advent of telescopes which have wider fields-of-view, coupled with software that automatically detects these new objects, finding supernovae has become easier. This is also one of the fields in astronomy that allows amateurs to make a significant contribution (see Figure 1).

Lastly, there are some telescopes that detect supernovae almost accidentally while doing other research, or serendipitously as astronomers describe this. A fantastic example of this is the European Space Agency's Gaia mission.

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