Lost and found

Published: Sunday 31 October 1999

Almost 700 years later, scientists have found evidence of the lost "Supernova" -- a colossal star 15 times as heavy as the Sun -- that exploded some 700 years ago. X-rays from the German-US orbiting satellite, Rosat, have shown a glowing Supernova remnant just 640 light years away, suggesting that the star's explosion lit up our skies at the beginning of the 14th century. Twenty years ago, analysis of an ice core in the South Pole showed four concentrations of nitrates in the snow. Now, scientists say the fourth concentration is the sign of the explosion pinpointed by Rosat. It's depth in the ice core corresponds to a date of around 1320, very close to the date estimated from Rosat observations.

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