Moscow schoolchildren discover supernova in Volans constellation

Moscow schoolchildren discover supernova in Volans constellation
The discovery was made while comparing the 9 March and 1 December celestial photos.

On 1 December, young members of the Na Donskoi Centre’s astronomy club, discovered a supernova and called it the 2018jgq.

Between 7.04 pm and 7.08 pm, the young astronomers obtained celestial photos in the Volans (Flying Fish) constellation. They took photos of that area during the previous academic year and conducted observations using the remote-controlled T31 telescope in Australia.

They discovered a 17 magnitude star while comparing the 9 March and 1 December photos. The star was located in the corner of a photo and next to an image of a small galaxy. To confirm their discovery, the young astronomers requested additional photos taken between 7.33 pm and 7.37 pm. The new photos showed the galaxy in the centre of the telescope’s visual field.

The new photos confirmed the star’s location. The galaxy where the flare was recorded is called IRAS 07171-6832 = 2MASX J071704.5-683743. The red-shift Z is estimated at 0.0214, equaling a distance of about 300 million lightyears.

Astronomers learned about their pioneering discovery after consulting astronomic websites and sent information about this discovery to the TNS server showing transient (newly-created) objects. The server collects data on supernovae under the guidance of the International Astronomical Union.

They also reported their discovery on the Astronomer's Telegram (A-Tel) website, an online short notice publication service for quickly disseminating information on new astronomical observations. Over 4,500 astronomers from all over the world read its data.

Diego Fernandez Ortiz, the first to discover the supernova, has been studying at the club for the past two years and wants to become the youngest astronomer to discover a supernova. Ten year old Canadian schoolchildren Catherine and Nathan Gray are the current record holders. Diego discovered the supernova several weeks before his birthday, to be celebrated on 25 December. Ivan Spasich, 12, Kirill Ionov, 13, and Denis Vdovin, 14, also helped make the discovery.

During their studies, the young geniuses discovered new variable stars, watched an asteroid streak past Planet Earth and they also saw the minor planet Pallas eclipse a star.