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Twitter Helps Track Supernova

Talk about your heavenly tweets....

By Scott Budman
|  Friday, Jul 1, 2011  |  Updated 11:02 AM PDT
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Twitter Helps Track Supernova

NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr Creative Commons

Liz Phair would love this.

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Tweets are as close as your PC or mobile phone.  Unless they're 25 million light years away.

In one of the coolest, literally out of this world uses of technology, a UC Berkeley astronomer was able to track a supernova -- a stellar explosion- because he got word of it from a tweet.

As Alex Filippenko, lead astronomer for the UC Berkeley team says about the lucky scientific break, "This is the first time we've been alerted via a tweet."  Love it.

As it turns out, timing is crucial for spotting celestial activity, and the big-time astronomers were alerted by an amateur.  Amedee Riou was the first spotter.  The initial images started to circulate online, Twitter sped things up, and then things got into the scopes of the pros.

The ability to see an exploding supernova, we're told, is an extremely rare event.  Thanks to a high tech boost here on the ground, we now know a little more about what's going on up in space.

Scott will keep his eye out for further explosions.  He's on Twitter:  @scottbudman

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