Vital clues about the devastating ends to the lives of massive stars can be found by studying the aftermath of their explosions. In its more than twelve years of science operations, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has studied many of these supernova remnants sprinkled across the Galaxy.
The latest example of this important investigation is Chandra's new image of the supernova remnant known as G350.1-0.3. This stellar debris field is located some 14,700 light years from the Earth toward the center of the Milky Way .
Evidence from Chandra and from ESA's XMM-Newton telescope suggest that a compact object within G350.1-0.3 may be the dense core of the star that exploded. The position of this likely neutron star, seen by mousing over the image above, is well away from the center of the X-ray emission (mouse-over for this position). If the supernova explosion occurred near the center of the X-ray emission then the neutron star must have received a powerful kick in the supernova explosion.
Data from Chandra and other telescopes suggest this supernova remnant, as it appears in the image, is between 600 and 1,200 years old. If the estimated location of the explosion is correct, this means that the neutron star has been moving at a speed of at least 3 million miles per hour since the explosion This is comparable to the exceptionally high speed derived for the neutron star in Puppis A and provides new evidence that extremely powerful "kicks" can be imparted to neutron stars from supernova explosions.
-Megan Watzke, CXC