Will the Real SN 2010O Please Come Forward

This morning's email contained an interesting story about Supernova 2010O. That is just an odd looking name isn't it? SN 2010O, weird.

The naming convention for supernovae is pretty straightforward. At the beginning of each year we roll back the names to the beginning of the alphabet and each supernova discovered is given a name that is the year followed by a capital letter. Thus, the first supernova this year was named SN 2010A, the second one SN 2010B and so on. After they use up the single letters, they begin adding double lower case letters, aa, ab, ac and so on. So SN 2010O was the 15th supernova discovered this year.

According to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBET) #2143, published January 24, SN2010O was discovered 2".6 east and 1".3 north of the nucleus of the galaxy IC 356.

IC stands for Index Catalogue, which is a catalogue of galaxies, nebulae and star clusters first published in 1895. Since then it has expanded to list 5,387 objects, known as IC objects.

First thing this morning CBET 2144 reports "that a spectrum obtained last night of the purported supernova found in IC 356 (as reported by Dimai on CBET 2143) is in fact the spectrum of a foreground star, not a supernova."

OOPS! I don't recall ever seeing that before. Usually, these things are confirmed as supernovae before being given an official designation. Ah well, nobody's perfect. So what happens when a mistake like this is made?

The IAU can't have a star named with a supernova designation, and they can't skip a letter, no, no! Instead, they have decided to name the next supernova discovered SN2010O, and the lucky winner is...envelope please...(drum roll)...a new discovery from J. Newton and T. Puckett, located at R.A. 11h28m33s.86, Decl. +58o33'51".6, which is 3".7 east and 5".7 north of the center of its apparent host galaxy, NGC 3690.

Supernova 2010O
Image from J. Newton and T. Puckett
Puckett Observatory Supernova Search

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