Amateur astronomer Dave Grennan discovers supernova

Dave Grennan with the telescope he built himself in Raheny Image copyright Lisa Fay-Davin
Image caption Dave Grennan with the telescope he built himself in Raheny, one of the largest telescopes in amateur hands in Ireland

An amateur astronomer has discovered a previously unknown supernova - an exploding star - from the back garden of his home in the Republic of Ireland.

Dave Grennan made the discovery using the observatory he set up at the rear of his house in Raheny, north Dublin.

It is the third time he has discovered a supernova from his home.

Supernovas - which are rare events - are stellar explosions that mark the violent deaths of stars several times bigger than the Sun.

The explosions can briefly outshine a whole galaxy.

Mr Grennan discovered his latest supernova nearly two weeks ago but said the actual explosion is thought to have happened millions of years ago.

Its existence was confirmed at the weekend by the International Astronomical Union.

It has been named "Supernova 2014as".

"A supernova represents the dying moment of a sun just like our own, which explodes in a spectacularly violent manner," Mr Grennan said.

"Even though this explosion happened 170m years ago, only now is the light reaching our planet."

Four years ago, the amateur astronomer became the first person in Ireland to discover a supernova.

He found his second two year ago and made the third discovery on Good Friday, 18 April.

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