Right at the center of this image, there's a dim orange dot. Somewhere around that dot, one of the stars in a binary system once went supernova, creating the vast red gaseous remnant you see all around it.
In 185 CE, Chinese astronomers reported the presence of an incredibly bright "guest star" that appeared suddenly in the sky and stayed there for months. This was the first recorded supernova...and astronomers are only now understanding what it really is.
The cosmological principle holds that the universe has the same structure and basic properties wherever you go. It's been a fundamental part of physics since Copernicus, and all available evidence has supported it...until now.
The whole point of white dwarfs is that they're the remains of stars not big enough to go supernova. Or so we thought. Many of these stars are held together by their super-fast spins... and slowing down could mean an explosion.
This video is a musical record of over three years worth of Type Ia supernova bursts, which are caused when white dwarf stars explode. University of Victoria astronomer Alex Parker and UC Santa Barbara's Melissa Graham assigned each blast an instrument and musical note depending on its properties. The result is the…