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SN 2008D: Supernova Caught in Act of Exploding
SN 2008D


On January 9, 2008, NASA's Swift satellite was used to fortuitously observe a very bright X-ray outburst in the spiral galaxy NGC 2770, located 90 million light-years from Earth. In a Nature paper, astronomers show that the properties of the X-ray outburst are consistent with a shock wave bursting through the surface of a massive star that has just collapsed, the first time such an event has been seen. This outburst marked the very early stages of a supernova explosion called SN 2008D.

This discovery triggered a large international collaboration, using a fleet of space-based observatories and ground-based telescopes. Shown here is a Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the region around SN 2008D, obtained about 10 days after the supernova explosion. The lowest energy X-rays are shown in red, intermediate energy X-rays in green and high energies in blue. The faint red source in the upper right is SN 2008D. The other 3 X-ray sources are unrelated to this supernova.

The Chandra observations helped show that this was a normal supernova rather than one associated with a gamma ray burst. They were also used to help calculate the variation of the supernova's X-ray emission with time, allowing estimates to be made of the radius of the star that exploded and the mass-loss rate just before the explosion.

Fast Facts for SN 2008D:
Credit  NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley et al.
Release Date  May 21, 2008
Scale  Image is 1 arcmin across.
Category  Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000)  RA | Dec
Constellation  Monoceros
Observation Date  01/19/2008
Observation Time  5 hours
Obs. ID  9104
Instrument  ACIS
References Soderberg et al. 2008, Nature, in press.
Color Code  Red (0.5-1.2 keV); Green (1.2-2.5 keV); Blue (2.5-6.0 keV)
X-ray
Distance Estimate  About 90 million light years
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