Victor Buso saw what no one has seen till now. A brilliant light captured on the camera in his private observatory turned out to be one of the biggest moments captured in astronomical history.
Buso, a self-taught astronomer, had witnessed the surge of light at the birth of a supernova – something no other human, not even a professional scientist, had seen before.
His discovery is a landmark for astronomy. Buso’s images are the first to capture the brief “shock breakout” phase of a supernova, when a wave of energy rolls from a star’s core to its exterior just before the star explodes. Computer models had suggested the existence of this phase, but no one had witnessed it.
Buso, a 58-year-old locksmith from the Argentine city of Rosario, inherited his love of astronomy from his parents. He began building telescopes at age 11, using tin cans, magnifying glass lenses and Play-Doh to make the stars seem closer. Eight years ago, he sold a piece of land he owned with his father and used the proceeds to construct an astronomy tower on his roof. He calls it Observatorio Busoniano.
Initially, the light he witnessed, didn’t look like a supernova. Yet the light just kept getting brighter. He realized that he needed to show this to a professional. He finally got in touch with a fellow amateur, who confirmed the sighting and helped him develop an international alert with data Buso provided on the object’s position, brightness and timeline.
According to a statement from the University of California at Berkeley, Buso had captured light from the supernova’s first hour. The early detection also allowed the scientists to track the supernova throughout its evolution and develop models to explain what they saw. Witnessing astronomers’ joy at this discovery was “awe-inspiring and unique,” Buso wrote. “It’s so exciting to find and register something yet unseen by humans.”
His one regret is that he cannot share his discovery with his parents, who died years ago. For the two people who taught him to love “this beautiful science we call astronomy,” this breakthrough seems a fitting memorial.