More Images of SN 2006gy
3-Panel of Chandra, Lick & Infrared Images of SN 2006gy
The brightest stellar explosion ever recorded may be a long-sought new
type of supernova, according to observations by NASA's Chandra X-ray
Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes. This discovery
indicates that violent explosions of extremely massive stars were
relatively common in the early universe, and that a similar explosion
may be ready to go off in our own Galaxy.
(Credit: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/UC Berkeley/N.Smith et al.; IR: Lick/UC Berkeley/J.Bloom & C.Hansen)
Chandra X-ray Image of SN 2006gy
SN 2006gy is the brightest stellar explosion ever recorded and may be a long-sought new type of supernova, according to observations by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes. This discovery indicates that violent explosions of extremely massive stars were relatively common in the early universe. These data also suggest that a similar explosion may be ready to go off in our own Galaxy.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/UC Berkeley/N.Smith et al.)
Lick Image of SN 2006gy
This image is an infrared image, using adaptive optics at the Lick Observatory, of NGC 1260, the galaxy containing SN 2006gy. The dimmer source to the lower left is the center of NGC 1260, while the much brighter source to the upper right is SN 2006gy.
(Credit: Lick/UC Berkeley/J.Bloom & C.Hansen)
Wide-field Infrared Image of SN 2006gy
This image is a wide-field infrared view from the PAIRITEL
telescope of the galaxy NGC 1260. NGC 1260 is located about 240 million light years away.
(Credit: PAIRITEL/UC Berkeley/J.Bloom)
Artist's Concept: A close-up of SN 2006gy
This artist's illustration shows what the brightest supernova ever
recorded, known as SN 2006gy, may have looked like. The fireworks-like
material (white) shows the explosive death of an extremely massive star.
Before it exploded, the star expelled the lobes of cool gas (red). As
the material from the explosion crashes into the lobes, it heats the gas
in a shock front (green, blue and yellow) and pushes it backward.
Illustration of Stellar Explosion of SN 2006gy
This illustration explains the process that astronomers think triggered the explosion in SN 2006gy. When a star is very massive, its core can produce so much gamma-ray light that some of the energy from the radiation is converted into particle and anti-particle pairs. The resulting drop in energy causes the star to collapse under its own huge gravity. After this violent collapse, runaway thermonuclear reactions (not shown here) ensue and the star explodes, spewing the remains into space.
A New Line of Stellar Evolution
This graphic gives a summary of our best current understanding of the
evolution of stars, showing their birth, middle age and eventual
demise. The lowest mass stars are shown at the bottom and the highest mass
stars at the top. The very top line is a new addition, compelled by the
detection of SN 2006gy, that describes the evolution of the most massive
stars in the universe. Observational evidence for the special type of
explosion shown here - which is incredibly bright and obliterates the star
rather than producing a black hole - was lacking until SN 2006gy was
Hubble Optical Image of Eta Carinae
Estimated to be 100 times heftier than our Sun, Eta Carinae is one of the
most massive stars in our galaxy. It may also turn out to be one of the
shortest-lived, because results for SN 2006gy suggest that it may be
destroyed by a supernova at any time. Since Eta Carinae is located in our
galaxy only about 7500 light years away, this would be a spectacular event.
This Hubble telescope image of Eta Carinae shows a huge, billowing pair of
gas and dust clouds, caused by a giant eruption about 160 years ago, when
it became one of the brightest stars in the southern sky. Though the star
released as much visible light as a supernova explosion, it survived the
eruption. Somehow, the explosion produced two lobes and a large, thin
equatorial disk, all moving outward at about 1.5 million miles per hour. A
similar eruption is believed to have been generated by the star that later
exploded as SN 2006gy.
More Information at Hubble
(Credit: NASA/N.Smith & J.Morse)
Chandra & Hubble Image of SN 1987a
Supernova 1987A is the remnant of an exploded star in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy 160,000 light years from Earth.
This composite image of Supernova 1987A shows the effects of a powerful shock wave moving away from the explosion. Bright spots of X-ray and optical emission arise where the shock collides with structures in the surrounding gas. These structures were carved out by the wind from the destroyed star. Hot-spots in the Hubble image (pink-white) now encircle Supernova 1987A like a necklace of incandescent diamonds. The Chandra data (blue-purple) reveals multimillion-degree gas at the location of the optical hot-spots. These data give valuable insight into the behavior of the doomed star in the years before it exploded.
Image is 12 arcmin across.
(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/S.Park & D.Burrows.; Optical: NASA/STScI/CfA/P.Challis)
Light Curve of SN 2006gy
This graph shows the intrinsic brightness of SN 2006gy and how it
changes over time. The graphic also demonstrates how much brighter SN
2006gy is when compared to typical examples of the two main supernova
classes. Type Ia supernovas involve the thermonuclear explosion of a
white dwarf and type II supernovas are the collapse of a massive star.
The famous supernova SN 1987A is also shown. Not only does SN 2006gy get
much brighter than other supernovas but it stays very bright for much
(Credit: NASA/CXC/UC Berkeley/N.Smith et al.)
Return to SN 2006gy (07 May 07)
SN 2006gy with Scale Bar