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Supernovas & SNR
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Supernovas & SNR
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Supernovas & SNR
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Supernovas & SNR
Animations & Video: Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
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1. Tour of G1.9+0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only A little more than a century ago, as seen from the Earth, a star exploded near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers think that this object represents one of the last stars to undergo a supernova explosion in our Galaxy. Today, the object is known as G1.9+0.3. In addition to its relative timeliness, G1.9+0.3 is also of interest to astronomers because it belongs to a special subset of supernovas called Type Ias. These are important supernovas because astronomers think they explode with a consistent brightness, which allows them to be used as cosmic distance markers. Type Ia supernovas were used to determine that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating.

As important as these objects are, astronomers are still unsure exactly what causes them. There is a consensus that Type Ias occur when a white dwarf undergoes a thermonuclear explosion, but what triggers that detonation? The two main candidates are either the accumulation of material on a white dwarf's surface from a companion star, or the merger of two white dwarfs.

A new study using X-ray data from Chandra and radio data from the Very Large Array reveals that at least one Type Ia was caused by the merger of two white dwarfs. This supernova left behind the remnant called G1.9+0.3. The researchers determined this by examining how the blast wave from the explosion interacts with the material surrounding the doomed star. Clues from this interaction led them to conclude that a white dwarf merger was responsible for this particular stellar explosion. While this doesn't mean that all Type Ia supernovas are caused by white dwarf mergers, it does imply that at least some of them are. It's important to determine exactly what the trigger mechanism or mechanisms for Type Ias are, since that could affect how they are used in the critical measurements of vast distances across the Universe.
[Runtime: 03:33]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. A Tour of IC 443
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The supernova remnant IC 443 has earned the nickname of the Jellyfish Nebula due to its distinctive shape. The Jellyfish Nebula, lying about 5,000 light years from Earth, is the remnant of a supernova that occurred over 10,000 years ago. Astronomers have been searching for the spinning neutron star, or pulsar, that may have formed in the explosion that created the Jellyfish Nebula. New Chandra observations show that a peculiar object, called J0617, may indeed be this pulsar.

When a massive star runs out of fuel, it implodes, and a dense stellar core, called a neutron star, is formed. The outer layers of the star collapse toward the neutron star then bounce outward in a supernova explosion. If the neutron star produces a beam of radiation and is rotating, it is called a pulsar, because pulses of radio waves and other types of radiation can be detected as the object spins.

The X-ray brightness of J0617 and its X-ray spectrum, that is, the amount of X-rays at different wavelengths, are consistent with the profiles from known pulsars. The spectrum and shape of the diffuse, or spread out, X-ray emission surrounding J0617 and extending well beyond the ring also match with expectations for a wind flowing from a pulsar.

While certain questions remain about this system, this latest research provides promise that astronomers may finally determine exactly what spawned the Jellyfish Nebula.
[Runtime: 02:52]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Banking X-ray Data for the Future
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Archives, in their many forms, save information from today that people will want to access and study in the future. This is a critical function of all archives, but it is especially important when it comes to storing data from today's modern telescopes.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has collected data for over sixteen years on thousands of different objects throughout the Universe. The science team has immediate access to the data, and then a year after observation all of the data goes into a public archive where it can be folded into later studies.

To celebrate October being American Archive Month a collection of images from the Chandra archive is being released. Some of these objects may be familiar to readers, while others may be unknown. None of these images, in the exact form, has been released before.

By combining data from different observation dates, new perspectives of cosmic objects can be created. With archives like those from Chandra and other major observatories, such vistas will be available for future exploration.
[Runtime: 01:27]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. The Most Attractive Stars in the Universe
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Have you ever played with magnets? You might have done an experiment where you lay a magnet onto a table and place an iron nail nearby. If you push the magnet slowly toward the nail, there will come a point when the nail jumps across and sticks to the magnet. That's because magnets have something invisible that extends all around them, called a 'magnetic field'. It can cause a pushing or pulling force on other objects, even if the magnet isn't actually touching them.

The most powerful magnets in the Universe are called magnetars. These are tiny, super-compact stars, 50 times more massive than our Sun, squashed into a ball just 20 kilometers across. (That's about the size of a small city!)

Astronomers think magnetars may be created when some massive stars die in a supernova explosion. The star's gases blow out into space creating a colourful cloud like the one in this picture, called Kes 73. At the same time, the core of the star squashes down to form a magnetar.

At the center of the cosmic cloud in this photograph lies a tiny magnetar. But what this star lacks in size it makes up for in energy, shooting out powerful jets of X-rays every few seconds! You can see the X-ray jets in blue in this photograph.
[Runtime: 02:04]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. A Tour of G299.2-2.9
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Over its decade and a half in orbit, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has looked at many different objects. Some of its most spectacular images are undoubtedly of supernova remnants. Because the debris fields of exploded stars are very hot and energetic, they glow brightly in X-ray light. The supernova remnant called G299.2-2.9, or G299 for short, is no exception. This new Chandra image of G299 shows a beautiful and intricate structure in the expanding remains of the shattered star. By analyzing the details of the remnant today, astronomers can get information about the explosion that created the remnant about 4,500 years ago.
[Runtime: 00:55]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. A Tour of IYL 2015
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The year of 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light, or IYL for short, by the United Nations. Organizations, institutions, and individuals involved in the science and applications of light will be joining together for this year-long celebration to help spread the word about the wonders of light.

In many ways, astronomy uses the science of light. By building telescopes that can detect light in its many forms from radio waves on one end of the "electromagnetic spectrum" to gamma rays on the other, scientists can get a better understanding of the processes at work in the Universe.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory explores the Universe in X-rays, a high-energy form of light. By studying X-ray data and comparing them with observations in other types of light, scientists can develop a better understanding of objects that generate temperatures of millions of degrees and produce X-rays.

To recognize the start of IYL, the Chandra X-ray Center is releasing a collection of images that combine data from telescopes tuned to different wavelengths of light. From a distant galaxy to the relatively nearby debris field of an exploded star, these images demonstrate the myriad ways that information about the Universe is communicated to us through light.

So join us in celebrating IYL and all of the amazing things that light can do, including how it helps us understand the Universe we live in.
[Runtime: 01:58]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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7. Breaking Free From a Cosmic Cocoon
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only In movies, heroes and villains are thrown forward after an explosion. This is because a powerful wave of energy, called a shock wave, is released. In space, the same thing happens when a star explodes in what is called a supernova explosion.

The shock wave from the supernova is absorbed by the star's outer shells of gas and dust, which escaped from the star before the explosion. It heats the gas so that it gives off X-ray radiation, which astronomers can photograph using special telescopes in space.

Astronomers took two pictures of this glowing cloud of gas and dust, which were taken about a year apart. By comparing the two X-ray photos, astronomers think that the shock wave is finally escaping from the cloud. This is the first time that astronomers have X-ray evidence for a shock wave breaking free from its gassy and dusty cocoon!
[Runtime: 01:24]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Chandra's Archives Come to Life
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Every year, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory looks at hundreds of objects throughout space to help expand our understanding of the Universe. Ultimately, these data are stored in the Chandra Data Archive, an electronic repository that provides access to these unique X-ray findings for anyone who would like to explore them. With the passing of Chandra's 15th anniversary, in operation since August 26, 1999, the archive continues to grow as each successive year adds to the enormous and invaluable dataset.

To celebrate Chandra's decade and a half in space, and to honor October as American Archive Month, a variety of objects have been selected from Chandra's archive. Each of the new images we have produced combines Chandra data with those from other telescopes. This technique of creating "multiwavelength" images allows scientists and the public to see how X-rays fit with data of other types of light, such as optical, radio, and infrared. As scientists continue to make new discoveries with the telescope, the burgeoning archive will allow us to see the high-energy Universe as only Chandra can.
[Runtime: 01:27]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of Puppis A
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The destructive results of a powerful supernova explosion are seen in a delicate tapestry of X-ray light in this new image. The remnant is called Puppis A, which could have been witnessed on Earth about 3,700 years ago and is about 10 light years across. This image is the most complete and detailed X-ray view of Puppis A ever obtained, made by combining a mosaic of different Chandra and XMM-Newton observations. In this image, low-energy X-rays are shown in red, medium-energy X-rays are in green and high energy X-rays are colored blue.
[Runtime: 00:48]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of M82 SN2014J
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Earlier this year, astronomers discovered one of the closest supernovas in decades. Now, new data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided information on the environment of the star before it exploded, and insight into the possible cause of the explosion. On January 21, 2014, astronomers witnessed a supernova just days after it went off in the Messier 82, or M82, galaxy. Telescopes across the globe and in space turned their attention to study this newly exploded star. Astronomers quickly determined this supernova, dubbed SN 2014J, belongs to a class of explosions called "Type Ia" supernovas. These supernovas are used as cosmic distance-markers and played a key role in the discovery of the Universe's accelerated expansion, which has been attributed to the effects of dark energy.

While astronomers agree that Type Ia supernovas occur when a white dwarf star explodes, they are not sure exactly how this happens. For example, do these supernovas go off when the white dwarf pulls too much material from a companion star like the Sun, or when two white dwarf stars merge? Researchers used Chandra to look for clues. They took observations with Chandra about three weeks after 2014J and compared it with Chandra data taken prior to the explosion. They found, well, nothing.

Although it may sound counterintuitive, this non-detection of X-rays actually told astronomers quite a bit. Specifically, it showed that the environment around the star was relatively free of material before it exploded. This means that it's very unlikely that a messy transfer of material between the white dwarf and a companion star took place. Rather, whatever caused SN 2014J to explode cleared out the space around the star beforehand. This helps astronomers narrow down the possibilities and get closer to the answer of just what caused SN 2014J.
[Runtime: 03:16]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images: