The galaxy M82 is an odd one; it’s classified as an irregular, literally a galaxy with an irregular shape. You can see the reddish material that looks like a shredded balloon or debris from an explosion; that’s actually huge amounts of gas and dust being blown out from the galaxy by the fierce winds of newborn stars. M82 is undergoing a vast wave of star formation, and their combined power is blasting material right out of the galaxy itself. This brand new (to us) supernova now has an official name: SN 2014J, the 10th exploding star seen so far this year. It’s by far the brightest, and it looks to be somewhat brighter than 11th magnitude. It’s not clear how bright it will get, but it may reach around magnitude 8; still too faint to see with the naked eye, but possible to spot through good binoculars at a dark site, and easily seen with a telescope. It’ll probably reach its maximum brightness in a week or two. M82 hosted another supernova recently, in 2008. It was buried deep in the dust of the galaxy, so it wasn’t seen at all by telescopes that see in visible light; only radio waves could get out of the mess. Not that much is known about it. But it’s still interesting to note there have been two such events in the galaxy in just a few years.

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