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Supernova seen in 1006 A.D.!

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  • rlbaty50
    Astronomers: Hohokam stargazer may have recorded 1006 supernova By LARRY COPENHAVER Tucson Citizen A star twinkles for eons, then suddenly shines brighter than
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2006
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      Astronomers: Hohokam stargazer may have recorded 1006 supernova

      By LARRY COPENHAVER
      Tucson Citizen

      A star twinkles for eons, then suddenly shines brighter than any
      other heavenly object save the sun and moon.

      It's a supernova, the titanic explosion of a great star somewhere in
      the Milky Way galaxy. The show in the sky can last for days or
      weeks.

      One such stellar event, recorded around the globe in 1006, is
      thought to have been recorded in Arizona by an ancient Hohokam
      stargazer who depicted the event in rock art, said two astronomers,
      John Barentine of Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico and Gilbert
      A. Esquerdo, research assistant with the Planetary Science Institute
      in Tucson.

      The two scientists presented their theory at the American
      Astronomical Society meeting this week in Calgary, Alberta.

      "The supernova of 1006 was perhaps the brightest such event visible
      from Earth for thousands of years, reaching the brightness of a
      quarter moon at peak," Barentine explained.

      The discovery, if confirmed, shows that those here then were aware
      of changes in the night sky and commemorated them in a cultural
      record.

      The rock art, or petroglyph, on a 2-foot-by-18-inch rock, is
      produced by chiseling an image into a stone with another stone,
      Barentine said in a telephone interview.

      The suggested depiction of the supernova of 1006 came from White
      Tanks Regional Park near Phoenix.

      That site, as with much of southern Arizona, is believed to have
      been populated by Hohokam from 500 to about 1100.

      While many scientists have agreed for 40 years that rock art found
      near PeƱasco Blanco at Chaco Canyon National Monument in New Mexico
      depicts the supernova of 1054, there is no known prior mention of
      the connection between the White Tanks artifact and the supernova of
      1006, Barentine said.

      But it's not surprising someone on this continent recorded the 1006
      event, he said. "It would have been so bright it would have cast
      shadows on the ground; it was that bright."

      The supernova was observed, beginning May 1, by star watchers in
      what we know as Asia, the Middle East and Europe, he said.

      To back up their hypothesis, Barentine and Esquerdo created a model
      of the night sky of May 1, 1006, to show that the relative position
      of the supernova to the constellation Scorpius matches placement of
      scorpion and star symbols on the rock.

      The results "are not fully conclusive," Barentine concedes. "The
      proposition is advanced and supported through circumstantial
      evidence."

      But the scientists plan further study using chemicals to identify
      materials in rock varnish that could substantiate an early 11th-
      century date of origin.

      Barentine said astronomers figure there is a supernova in the galaxy
      about every 100 years.

      Few are visible from Earth because of dust and debris between Earth
      and the exploding star. The most recent supernova observed was in
      1604.

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