By combining the efforts of professional and citizen scientists, the study of cosmic cataclysms expands our understanding of the universe’s extraordinary phenomena — ScienceDaily | Science & Technology

In an unprecedented achievement, citizen scientists have set a new record for the SETI Institute and Unistellar, comprising the highest number of observers providing data on a single event. Amateur astronomers participating in the SETI Institute’s and Unistellar’s Cosmic Cataclysms program conducted a groundbreaking observation of supernova (SN) 2023ixf. The observations, which began just one hour after the supernova’s first known appearance, have generated the longest continuous light curve of this supernova gathered by citizen scientists that has been published to date. The data collection effort involved 123 observers and utilized Unistellar’s eVscope, with observations set to continue until the supernova is no longer visible, likely sometime in August. The accomplishment highlights the significant contributions made by citizen scientists in advancing astronomical research.

“It is really incredible what this citizen science network can do,” said Lauren Sgro, who led the study along with Tom Esposito. The two are part of a team of SETI Institute researchers guided by Franck Marchis, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and Chief Science Officer and co-founder at Unistellar. “This was the closest supernova of the last decade, and observers took full advantage of the special occasion. They jumped on target as soon as possible and kept observing, which allowed us to witness the full potential of this program.”

The research note, published in Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society, revealed that for 35 days, 252 observations from 115 telescopes captured the supernova’s escalating brightness, followed by its gradual decline. This extensive dataset provides valuable insights into the behavior of this supernova, thanks to the collaborative efforts of dedicated amateur astronomers.

The supernova (SN) 2023ixf occurred in the Pinwheel Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located approximately 21 million light-years from Earth. This explosive event was first…

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