Brandon University radio astronomer Tyler Foster, right, explains how the moon of Jupiter can be seen through the 16-inch telescope at the BU observatory during an open evening for students and their family and friends in 2012. This past summer, Foster pinpointed what he believes to be the remains of an exploded star — a supernova remnant — and is off to Germany to confirm the discovery.
A Brandon University radio astronomer may soon have the honour of naming a new discovery in the night sky.
Tyler Foster, of the department of physics and astronomy, pinpointed what he believes to be the remains of an exploded star, a supernova remnant, during research this past summer at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in B.C.
He will verify the results later this month with observing time awarded to his group on a radio telescope in Effelsberg, Germany, which is 100 metres across and, for decades, was the largest steerable telescope of any kind in the world.
"The object’s temporary name is G181.2+9.5, which refers to its co-ordinates in the Milky Way Galaxy," Foster said.
"After we validate and publish the discovery, I could rename it. But I’ll leave that to the astronomy community. I’m too modest," he added with a laugh.
To date, fewer than 300 supernova remnants have been discovered, although scientists estimate 10 times that number should exist.
Foster is credited as discoverer or co-discoverer of 11, including a pair of supernova remnants found in 2011 with BU alumnus Brendan Cooper — now enrolled in a master’s degree in radio astronomy at the University of Calgary — using a new data processing technique the two had developed.
"Radio astronomy gives us a deeper glimpse into the cosmos," Foster said, "without the distortion experienced by visual telescopes due to the Earth’s atmosphere or the dimming effect caused by the light’s travel through the very dusty space between the stars.
"It will be quite exciting to confirm our latest discovery using one of the largest telescopes in the world."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 21, 2013