Messier 101 and a (likely) supernova impostor

Messier 101 and PSN J14021678+5426205: 18 Feb. 2015

Messier 101 and PSN J14021678+5426205: 18 Feb. 2015

Messier 101 surely is one of the most beautiful spiral galaxies out there. Because of its relative proximity (about 20 millions of light years), its face-on geometry and the elegance of its arm, the “Pinwheel” galaxy, as it is nicknamed, it is among the most observed, studied and imaged.

In 2011 Messier 101 hosted supernova SN 2011fe, one of the most important objects of this type ever observed and deeply studied. At Virtual Telescope we managed to provide essential follow-up at the discovery time, also covering it for months, getting a nice light curve and a stunning, unique animation.

On 10 Feb. 2015 a possible new supernova was reported, temporarily designed as PSN J14021678+5426205. Soon, several observers around the world confirmed it, including the Virtual Telescope. Spectra and the photometric behavior of the transient suggested it could a luminous red nova (LRN).

The image above comes from the average of fifteen, 300-seconds exposures, unfiltered, remotely collected with the  PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope Project.

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