Searching for Supernovae

Detection of CV Virginis

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APUS Supernova Search Program

The Supernovae Research Program is an observing program designed to regularly observe a core group of galaxies (in search for supernova events). Supernovae are interesting and important objects. Their large luminosities mean that they can be used as "standard candles. Observations of supernovae allow for accurate distance measurements from Earth to distant galaxies. They are also the sources of most of the heavy metals in our universe, which has profound implications for life.

One supernovae occurs approximately every 50 years in galaxies similar to our own Milky Way.  Therefore, detecting supernovae requires detailed observations of individual galaxies over extended periods of time, making this project an ideal candidate for group participation. In this research program, we observe a total of 177 galaxies covering six different regions of the sky on a weekly basis. Recorded galaxy images are then processed and analyzed using a "blink compare" method to determine if a supernova is present within a given observation.

One of the unique aspects of this research program is that it was designed by, and is currently run by, APUS Masters candidate students. The galaxy analysis is performed by APUS graduate and undergraduate students as well.

This research program is open for all Space Studies students.  If you are interested in being part of the program, please email

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NGC 891

NGC 908

NGC 628


Dr. Edward Albin


Salina Peña


Dr. Kristen Miller


Jason Cushard


Terry Trevino

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Christine Arbizo


Chris Colvin

Research Teams

Team 1

Christine Arbizo (Team Lead)

Abel Akamah

Brigitte Moran

Chris Colvin (Detection Verification)

Darrin Driskill

Evan Vandermay

Gilbert Wilkerson

John Cappolella

Kenny Pellegrino

Alexis (Lex) Lojek

Marc Smith 

Salina Pena (Training Coordinator)

Steven White

Jason Cushard

Team 2

Terry Trevino (Team Lead)

Alan Dugger

Andre Velez

Anthony Ritz

Chris Colvin (Detection Verification)

DJ Hadders

Josef Green

Rose Worku

Sarah Guthrie

Larry Harrison

Victor Nazario

Marc Smith