The new paper in Nature A surge of light at the birth of a supernova (doi:10.1038/nature25151) describes the fortuitous capture of a supernova "Shock Breakout" - the earliest rise in brightness of a supernova only about 4 hours old. An open access epdf is linked in the Washington Post article if you click from inside it: A self-taught astronomer spotted something no scientist had ever seen which is a good read itself.
His discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, 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.
Is this the earliest that such a phenomenon has been "seen" by a person, or does this observation also hold the record after including all of the automated searches for supernovae by robotic telescopes as well?
below: "Astronomer Victor Buso poses in front of the telescope with which he witnessed the birth of the supernova 2016gkg. (Victor Buso)" From here. Click/open for full size.