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New light on 16th century explosion

NEW YORK: More than 400 years after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe challenged established wisdom about the heavens by analysing a strange light in the sky, scientists say they have determined just what he saw.

It is no big surprise. Scientists have known the light came from a supernova, a huge star explosion. But what kind of supernova?

A new study confirms that, as expected, it was the common kind that involves the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf star with a nearby companion.

The research, which analysed a “light echo” from the long-ago event, is presented in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

The story of what is commonly called Tycho’s supernova began on November 11, 1572, when Brahe was astonished to see what he thought was a brilliant new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. — AP

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