Although the galaxy sits some 98 million miles from Earth, astronomers saw the galaxy flare-up in 1975 and 2015 respectively. Both events were triggered by the collapse of a white dwarf star, which resulted in the universe’s biggest type of fireworks – supernova eruptions. NASA said: “In the depths of the night sky lies a barred spiral galaxy called NGC 3583, imaged here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
“This is a barred spiral galaxy with two arms that twist out into the universe.
“This galaxy is located 98 million light-years away from the Milky Way.
“Two supernovae exploded in this galaxy, one in 1975 and another, more recently, in 2015.”
There are at least two ways in which a star can go supernova.
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When a massive star runs out of fuel, it starts to cool and the internal forces of pressure drops.
Eventually, the star’s own gravity overcomes all other forces and the star collapses in on itself.
NASA said: “Imagine something one million times the mass of Earth collapsing in 15 seconds.
“The collapse happens so quickly that it creates enormous shockwaves that cause the outer part of the star to explode.”
The explosions typically leave behind an exposed core surrounded by an expanding cloud of stellar gasses – a so-called nebula.
In some cases, if a star is at least 10 times bigger than our Sun, the explosion can leave behind a black hole.
Imagine something one million times the mass of Earth collapsing in 15 seconds
However, in the case of NGC 3583, both supernovas were triggered by a different process.
The explosions went off in two binary systems in which a white dwarf star orbits a second star.
NASA said: “In the case of these two supernovae, the explosions evolved from two independent binary star systems in which the stellar remnant of a Sun-like star, known as a white dwarf, was collecting material from its companion star.
“Feeding off of its partner, the white dwarf gorged on the material until it reached maximum mass.
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“At this point, the star collapsed inward before exploding outward in a brilliant supernova.”
Although the two events are no longer visible in Hubble’s photo, the supernovas were seen from Earth when they occurred.
The first was seen on November 13, 1975, and the second on November 8, 2015.
Astronomer Greg Crinklaw, developer of Sky Tools, photographed the second supernova on January 21, 2015.
He wrote on his website: “For over a hundred million years the light travelled across the void, eventually entering our own galaxy, and solar system, with some small part finding its way through the atmosphere of the earth and into a telescope.
“If you should dare to be so bold as to go look for it, you may capture a tiny bit of this light with your very own eye.”
The supernova was discovered by the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae at The Ohio State University.
Supernovas within the Milky Way galaxy happen about once every 50 years.
Outside of our home galaxy, a few hundred supernovas erupt every year.
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