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Tag Archives: supernova remnant

To commemorate October as American Archive Month, six new images have been released from the Chandra Data Archive. The archive houses the data from Chandra’s observations, making them available for ongoing and future studies.



The objects are: (top row, l-r) W44, a supernova remnant; SN 1987A, the remnant of a bright nearby supernova; Kes 79, a super nova remnant; (bottom row, l-r) MS 0735.6+7421, an erupting galaxy cluster; 3C295, a galaxy cluster within a superheated gas cloud; the Guitar Nebula, a pulsar.

Further details about these images and objects, and many more, may be found on the Chandra website.

From a HST press release, September 24, 2015:

A stunning new set of images from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 capture the scattered stellar remains in spectacular new detail and reveal its expansion over the years since HST last captured them, in 1997.

Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team

Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team

Deriving its name from its delicate, draped filamentary structures, the beautiful Veil Nebula is one of the best-known supernova remnants. It formed from the violent death of a star twenty times the mass of the Sun that exploded about 8000 years ago. Located roughly 2100 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus (The Swan), this brightly coloured cloud of glowing debris spans approximately 110 light-years.

Astronomers suspect that before the Veil Nebula’s source star exploded it expelled a strong stellar wind. This wind blew a large cavity into the surrounding interstellar gas. As the shock wave from the supernova expands outwards, it encounters the walls of this cavity — and forms the nebula’s distinctive structures. Bright filaments are produced as the shock wave interacts with a relatively dense cavity wall, whilst fainter structures are generated by regions nearly devoid of material. The Veil Nebula’s colorful appearance is generated by variations in the temperatures and densities of the chemical elements present; they do not represent the real colors of the nebula.

Links: Full press release and description; images for download and video.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s launch, the Chandra X-ray Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory has released four new images of supernova remnants in their press release of July 22, 2014.



Since its deployment on July 23, 1999, Chandra has helped revolutionize our understanding of the Universe through its unrivaled X-ray vision. One of NASA’s current “Great Observatories,” along with the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, Chandra is specially designed to detect X-ray emission from hot and energetic regions of the universe.

With its superb sensitivity and resolution, Chandra has observed objects ranging from the closest planets and comets to the most distant known quasars. It has imaged the remains of exploded stars, or supernova remnants, observed the region around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and discovered black holes across the universe. Chandra also has made a major advance in the study of dark matter by tracing the separation of dark matter from normal matter in collisions between galaxy clusters. It is also contributing to research on the nature of dark energy.

The four new images of supernova remnants – the Crab Nebula, Tycho, G292.0+1.8, and 3C58 – are very hot and energetic and glow brightly in X-ray light, which allows Chandra to capture them in exquisite detail.

Links: the Chandra X-ray Center press release; images and further descriptions here.

Adapted from AIP Advances press release, March 18, 2014:

A powerful, new computer model provides fresh insight into the turbulent death throes of supernovae (see Section 13.2, p. 337).

Credit. W. D. Arnett, C. Meakin and M. Viallet/AIP Advances

The new model, developed by W. David Arnett (U. of Arizona) and colleagues, is the first to represent the start of a supernova collapse in three dimensions. It shows how the turbulent mixing of elements inside stars causes them to expand, contract, and spit out matter before they finally detonate. Arnett’s new model better matches what we observe in supernova remnants, with ejections of star material mixing with the material expelled during its final explosion.

The article, ‘Chaos and turbulent nucleosynthesis prior to a supernova explosion’ by David Arnett, Casey Meakin and Maxime Viallet is published in the journal AIP Advances.

Links: full AIP press release; the research article.

One of the most famous objects in the sky, the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant (see Figure 13-18c) – Cas A, for short – has been rendered for display like never before, thanks to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and a new project from the Smithsonian Institution. A new three-dimensional viewer allows users to interact with many one-of-a-kind objects from the Smithsonian as part of a large-scale effort to digitize many of the Institutions objects and artifacts.

Scientists have combined data from Chandra, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based facilities to construct a unique 3D model of the 300-year old remains of a stellar explosion that blew a massive star apart, sending the stellar debris rushing into space at millions of miles per hour. The collaboration with this new Smithsonian 3D project allows the astronomical data collected on Cas A to be featured and highlighted in an open-access program.



To coincide with Cas A being featured in this new 3D effort, a specially-processed version of Chandra’s data of this supernova remnant has been released. This new image shows with better clarity the appearance of Cas A in different energy bands, which will aid astronomers in their efforts to reconstruct details of the supernova process such as the size of the star, its chemical makeup, and the explosion mechanism. The color scheme used in this image is the following: low-energy X-rays are red, medium-energy ones are green, and the highest-energy X-rays detected by Chandra are colored blue.

Cas A is the only astronomical object to be featured in the new Smithsonian 3D project. This and other objects in the collection – which include the Wright brothers plane, a 1600-year-old stone Buddha, a gunboat from the Revolutionary War, and fossil whales from Chile – were showcased in the Smithsonian X 3D event on November 13th and 14th at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Links: Smithsonian X 3D beta tour; Chandra X-ray Center press release; NASA press release; YouTube movie of a fly-through.