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The Curious Case of Calcium-rich Supernovae
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Name: NGC 5714
Description: Spiral galaxy
Position (J2000): RA 14h 38m 9.96s Dec 46° 38' 22.57"
Constellation: Boötes
Distance: 120 million light-years
Visual magnitude: 13.4
Angular size: 3.2 by 0.4 arcmin
Field of view: 3.37 x 1.96 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 6.3° left of vertical
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Release date: March 26, 2018
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This image, captured by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the spiral galaxy NGC 5714, about 130 million light-years away in the constellation of Boötes (the Herdsman). NGC 5714 is classified as a Sc spiral galaxy, but its spiral arms - the dominating feature of spiral galaxies - are almost impossible to see, as NGC 1787 presents itself at an almost perfectly edge-on angle.

Discovered by William Herschel on May 12, 1787, NGC 5714 was host to a fascinating and rare event in 2003. A faint supernova called SN 2003dr.appeared about 8000 light-years below the central bulge of NGC 5714. Supernovae are the huge, violent explosions of dying stars, and the one that exploded in NGC 5714 - not visible in this much later image - was classified as a Type Ib/c supernova and named SN 2003dr. It was particularly interesting because its spectrum showed strong signatures of calcium.

Calcium-rich supernovae are rare and hence of great interest to astronomers. Astronomers still struggle to explain these particular explosions as their existence presents a challenge to both observation and theory. In particular, their appearance outside of galaxies, their lower luminosity compared to other supernovae, and their rapid evolution, are still open questions for researchers.