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Space Scoop
Cassiopeia A: A Star Turned Inside Out!

These pictures show a star before and after it has had a radical makeover. The 'before' picture on the left is an artist's drawing of where the different ingredients inside a massive star used to be found. These ingredients are called chemical elements. On the right, the 'after' picture is a real space photo of the same star after a massive explosion blew away the star's outer parts.

Astronomers call an explosion like this a supernova and all of the star material after the explosion is called a supernova remnant. The supernova remnant shown here (in the photo on the right) is called Cassiopeia A, or just Cas A for short.

In both pictures the same colors have been used to show the different chemical elements in the star. Before the explosion, astronomers think that the star had lots of the chemical element iron (shown in blue) and sulphur and silicon (shown in green) at its center. But afterwards, these chemical elements were flung towards the outer edges of the star, as shown by the blue and green colors around the outer parts of Cas A in the photo on the right. Basically, the star has turned inside out!

Cool fact: Except for objects in our Solar System, Cas A is the most powerful radio station in the night sky, emitting lots of radio signals!

More information
Several language translations for this post are available at UNAWE


This is a kids' version of Chandra Press Release Cassiopeia A (March 29, 2012)

Do you want to learn more about this topic?

Visit the Chandra field guide or send us your questions in an email: cxcpub@cfa.harvard.edu




In cooperation with Space Scoop: Bringing news from across the Universe to children all around the world. Universe Awareness and the Chandra X-ray Observatory


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