Detailed studies of historical records reveal that over the past thousand years or so no more than five supernovae have been observed in our galaxy. These appeared in the years AD 1006, 1054, 1181, 1572 and 1604 -- and thus all prior to the telescopic era. In each case the observations are fairly detailed and the remnant of the outburst is well established. Further supernovae may have occurred early in the first millennium, AD (most probably in AD 185 and 393) but the available records are very brief and as the positions of these stars are not well-defined. The current knowledge of historical supernovae is summarised, and a set of selection criteria is proposed to assist the identification of supernovae from among the medley of historical records of temporary stars.
1604-2004: Supernovae as Cosmological Lighthouses
- Pub Date:
- December 2005