Supernovae observed in the Milky Way:
Historical Supernovae

Similar to other galaxies (including the Messier galaxies), there occur supernovae in our Milky Way at irregular intervals of time.

If they are not too heavily obscurred by interstellar matter, they can be seen as very spectacular events in the sky. Unfortunately, though, none of them has been well visible since the invention of the telescope, although modern estimates predict that every few decades one supernova should occur in a galaxy like the Milky Way.

Here we list the supernovae (sometimes only candidates, indicated by question marks) which have been recorded through the history of humanity.

Year    Date    Con      mag     Remnant    Observed/Comments

2241 BC ?? ? -10 Dubiously listed in some source 352 BC ? Chinese; "first such record" according to Hellemans/Bunch 4 BC spring Aql Chinese 185 AD Cen -2 G315.4-2.3 Chinese 369 ? Chinese 386 Sgr G11.2-0.3? Chinese 393/396 Sco -3 SNR 393 Chinese 437 ? Gem 827 ? Sco/Oph -10 902 ? Cas 0 1006 Apr 30 Lup -9+-1 SNR 1006 Arabic; also Chinese, Japanese, European 1054 Jul 4 Tau -6 M1 Chinese, North American (?); also Arab, Japan 1181 Aug 6 Cas -1 3C 58 Chinese and Japanese 1203 ? Sco 0 1230 ? Aql Kes 75? (see below) 1572 Nov 6 Cas -4 Tycho SNR Tycho Brahe's SN 1592 ? Cet Korean; probably Nova 1592 ? Cas Korean; probably Nova 1592 ? Cas Korean; probably Nova 1604 Oct 9 Oph -3 Kepler SNR Johannes Kepler's SN 1680? 1667? Cas Cas A Flamsteed ? not seen ?
Key: Year/Date: Time of observation/occurrance, Con: Constellation, mag: estimated apparent magnitude in brightness maximum, Remnant: Identification of the supernova remnant

Restricting to the more or less safe supernova events, this table reduces significantly, most probably because of poor recording of our ancestors, to only 8 supernovae, one of which (185 AD) was even questioned recently:

Year    Date    Con  RA      Dec    mag    Comment/SNR

185 AD Cen 14:43.1 -62:28 -2 (-6 mag acc. to Sky Catalog 2000) SNR: G315.4-2.3/RCW 86 386 Sgr 18:11.5 -19:25 SNR: G11.2-0.3 (?) 393/396 Sco 17:14 -39.8 -3 3 radio sources candidates for SNR SNR: G347.3-0.5 (?) 1006 Apr 30 Lup 15:02.8 -41:57 -9+-1 SNR: PKS 1459-41 1054 Jul 4 Tau 05:34.5 +22:01 -6 M1 (Crab Nebula) 1181 Aug 6 Cas 02:05.6 +64:49 -1 3C 58 1572 Nov 6 Cas 00:25.3 +64:09 -4 Tycho 1604 Oct 9 Oph 17:30.6 -21:29 -3 Kepler 1680? 1667? Cas 23:23.4 +58:50 +6? Cas A SN
Key: Year/Date: Time of observation/occurrance, Con: Constellation, RA/Dec: Right Ascension and Declination (2000.0) mag: estimated apparent magnitude in brightness maximum

Even for the 185 AD event, doubts have been brought up on its nature as a supernova (Chin and Huang, 1994).

A notable event with some similarity to a supernova occurred with the star Eta Carinae in 1843, when it brightened to mag -0.8 and became the second brightest star in the heavens after Sirius, although it is at the great distance of 10,000 light years.

Only two supernovae have been discovered in other galaxies of the Local Group: SN 1885 or S Andromedae in the Andromeda Galaxy M31, and SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud:


1885 Aug 20 And 00:42.7 +41:16 +5.8 S And in M31 1987 Feb 23 Dor 05:35.4 -69:16 +2.9 SN 1987A in LMC

Remnants have been found of three further supernovae that have occured in recent centuries but have escaped detection and known records of observation:

~Year   Con  RA      Dec     Comment/SNR
 AD

~1250 Aql 18:46.4 +02:59 SNR G29.7-0.3, Kesteven 75; 1230 from above? ~1300 Vel 08:52.0 -46:22 SNR G266.2-1.2, RX J0852.0-4622, "Vela jr." ~1870 Sgr 17:48.7 -27:10 SNR G1.9+0.3
A remnant of a supernova, cataloged as E0102-72, which probably has occurred about the 10th century A.D., was also found in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), but no records of this southern event have been detected so far:

~1000 Tuc 01:04.0 -72:02 SNR E0102-72 in SMC

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