Astronomers have caught the first pictures of a star in the early stages of going nova after a Japanese amateur skywatcher alerted the community to a new star showing up in the heavens.
On August 14 of last year, Koichi Itagaki reported discovering a new star in the sky called Nova Delphinus 2013 around 14,800 light years from Earth. He put the word out on the Astronomer's Telegram bulletin board, which was spotted by astronomers at the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA), who started shifting their hardware to catch the star as it went nova and exploded outwards.
"This is the first time astronomers have been able to witness an expanding fireball with such great detail, rather than as a tiny point of light way out in the galaxy," said Georgia State University astronomer Dr. Gail Schaefer. "It was amazing to see the material expanding outward each day after the explosion."