Kepler's Supernova

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SN 1604
Keplers supernova.jpg
A false-color composite (CXO/HST/Spitzer Space Telescope) image of the supernova remnant nebula from SN 1604.
Credit: NASA/ESA/JHU/R. Sankrit & W. Blair
Event type Star Edit this on Wikidata
Spectral class Ia [1][2]
Date 8−9 October 1604
Constellation Ophiuchus
Right ascension 17h 30m 42s
Declination −21° 29′
Epoch J2000
Galactic coordinates G4.5+6.8
Distance 20,000 light-years (6.1 kpc)
Remnant Shell
Host Milky Way
Progenitor White Dwarf-RedGiant double star system
Progenitor type Type Ia supernova
Colour (B-V) Unknown
Notable features Latest observed supernova
in our galaxy.
Maintained naked-eye
visibility for 18 months.
Peak apparent magnitude −2.25 to −2.5
See also
Preceded by SN 1572
Followed by Cassiopeia A (unobserved, c. 1680), G1.9+0.3 (unobserved, c. 1868), SN 1885A (next observed)
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Supernova 1604, also known as Kepler's Supernova, Kepler's Nova or Kepler's Star, was a supernova of Type Ia[1][2] that occurred in the Milky Way, in the constellation Ophiuchus. Appearing in 1604, it is the most recent supernova in our own galaxy to have been unquestionably observed by the naked eye,[3] occurring no farther than 6 kiloparsecs or about 20,000 light-years from Earth.

Visible to the naked eye, Kepler's Star was brighter at its peak than any other star in the night sky, with an apparent magnitude of −2.5. It was visible during the day for over three weeks.

Johannes Kepler's original drawing depicting the location of the stella nova, marked with an N (8 grid squares down, 4 over from the left)

The first recorded observation was in northern Italy on 9 October 1604.[4] Johannes Kepler began observing the luminous display on October 17 while working at the imperial court in Prague for Emperor Rudolf II.[5] It was subsequently named after him, even though he was not its first observer, as his observations tracked the object for an entire year and because of his book on the subject, entitled De Stella nova in pede Serpentarii ("On the new star in Ophiuchus's foot", Prague 1606).

The supernova was also recorded in Chinese and Korean sources.[6]

It was the second supernova to be observed in a generation (after SN 1572 seen by Tycho Brahe in Cassiopeia). No further supernovae have since been observed with certainty in the Milky Way, though many others outside our galaxy have been seen since S Andromedae in 1885. SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud was easily visible to the naked eye.

Strong present day astronomical evidence exists for a Milky Way supernova whose signal would have reached Earth ca. 1680 (Cassiopeia A), and another (G1.9+0.3) whose light should have arrived ca. 1870. There is no historical record of either having been detected at the time, probably because absorption by interstellar dust made them fainter than they would otherwise have been.[7]

The supernova remnant resulting from Kepler's supernova is considered to be one of the prototypical objects of its kind, and is still an object of much study in astronomy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Chandra X-Ray Observatory". Kepler's Supernova Remnant: A Star's Death Comes to Life. Retrieved 2006-01-16. 
  2. ^ a b Reynolds, S. P.; Borkowski, K. J.; Hwang, U.; Hughes, J. P.; Badenes, C.; Laming, J. M.; Blondin, J. M. (2007-10-02). "A Deep Chandra Observation of Kepler's Supernova Remnant: A Type Ia Event with Circumstellar Interaction". The Astrophysical Journal. 668 (2): L135–L138. arXiv:0708.3858Freely accessible. Bibcode:2007ApJ...668L.135RFreely accessible. doi:10.1086/522830Freely accessible. 
  3. ^ "Kepler's Supernova: Recently Observed Supernova". Universe for Facts. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Delle Colombe L., Discorso di Lodovico Delle Colombe nel quale si dimostra che la nuova Stella apparita l’Ottobre passato 1604 nel Sagittario non è Cometa, ne stella generata, ò creata di nuovo, ne apparente: ma una di quelle che furono da principio nel cielo; e ciò esser conforme alla vera Filosofia, Teologia, e Astronomiche dimostrazioni, Firenze, Giunti, 1606.
  5. ^ "Bill Blair's Kepler's Supernova Remnant Page". Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  6. ^ Stephenson, F. Richard & Green, David A., Historical Supernovae and their Remnants, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2002, pp. 60–71.
  7. ^ "Chandra X-Ray Observatory". Discovery of Most Recent Supernova in Our Galaxy, May 14, 2008. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: Sky map 17h 30m 38.5s, −21° 28′ 48″