Chandra X-ray Observatory - HomeAbout The ChandraEducational MaterialsField GuidePhoto AlbumPress RoomResources
Chandra X-ray Observatory - HomeChandra Photo Album - You are here
ObservatoryImages by DateImages by CategorySky MapConstellationsSpecial FeaturesChandra Zoom-insImage HandoutsScale Bar ImagesTutorial Chandra Images & False Color Note on Cosmic DistanceCosmic Look Back TimeScale & DistanceScale & Angular MeasurementImage Use
Web Site ToolsVisit the Chandra ChroniclesEmail NewsletterSite MapNew & NoteworthyImage Use PolicyQuestions & AnswersGlossaryDownload Guide

Cassiopeia A: Supernova Remnant

What Do These Images Tell Us?

Cas A in X-ray Cas A - Optical Cas A - Infrared Cas A - Radio
Cas A in X-ray These images show Cas A as viewed by four different types of telescopes. The X-ray image of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant on the left is the official first light image of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The 5,000 second image was made with the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS). Two shock waves are visible: a fast outer shock and a slower inner shock. The inner shock wave is believed to be due to the collision of the ejecta from the supernova explosion with a circumstellar shell of material, heating it to a temperature of ten million degrees. The outer shock wave is analogous to an awesome sonic boom resulting from this collision. The bright object near the center may be the long sought neutron star or black hole that remained after the explosion that produced Cas A.
Cas A - Optical The optical image of Cas A shows matter with a temperature of about ten thousand degrees. Some of these wisps contain high concentrations of heavy elements and are thought to be dense clumps of ejected stellar material.
Cas A - Infrared The infrared image of Cas A shows dust grains that have been swept up and heated to several hundred degrees by the expanding hot gas. It is not known whether the dust grains were ejected by the star millions of years before it exploded or during the explosion.
Cas A - Radio Cas A gets its name from radio astronomers, who ‘rediscovered' it in 1948 as the strongest radio source in the constellation of Cassiopeia. About 5 years later optical astronomers found the faint wisps, and it was determined that Cas A is the remnant of an explosion that occurred about 300 years ago. The radio emission comes from high-energy electrons moving in large spirals around magnetic field lines of force.

Return to Cassiopeia A (26 Aug 99)

Chandra Images: '08 | ' 07 | ' 06 | ' 05 | ' 04 | ' 03 | ' 02 | ' 01 | ' 00 | ' 99 | Images by Category

separator line
CXC Home | Search | Help | Site Map | Image Use Policy | Privacy & Accessibility | Downloads & Plugins
Latest Images | New & Noteworthy | Multimedia | Flash Ecards | Glossary | Q&A | Guestbook

RSS Feed RSS Feed | Podcast Podcast | Blog Blog

[News by email: Chandra Digest]
[Contact us:]
NASA's Home Page Smithsonian's Home Page CXC Home Page Image Map for NASA's, Smithsonian and Chandra's Home Pages
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Phone: 617.496.7941 Fax: 617.495.7356

Text Size:
normal font large font larger font
Chandra X-ray Center, Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
This site was developed with funding from NASA under Contract NAS8-39073.
Revised: March 24, 2008