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'Closest' stellar explosion pictured by NASA spacescraft

An exceptionally close stellar explosion discovered on January 21 has become the focus of observatories around and above the globe, including several NASA spacecraft.

The blast, named SN 2014J, occurred in the galaxy 'M82' and lies about 12 million light-years away. This makes it the nearest optical supernova in two decades and potentially the closest type of supernova to occur during the life of currently operating space missions.

These Swift UVOT images show M82 before and after the new supernova (below). Credit: NASA/Swift/P. Brown, TAMU
The view showing SN 2014J (arrow) merges three exposures taken on Jan. 22, 2014. Credit: NASA/Swift/P. Brown, TAMU