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Supernovas Portrait Gallery

Object 1 in X-ray Object 2 in X-ray Object 3 in X-ray
Images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveal previously unobserved features in the remnants of three different supernova explosions. Two of the remnants, G21.5-0.9 and PSR 0540-69, show dramatic new details of the prodigious production of energetic particles by a rapidly rotating, highly magnetized neutron star, as well as the enormous shell structures produced by the explosions. The striking image of the supernova remnant E0102-72 shows puzzling spoke-like structures in its interior.

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E0102-72 Chandra Cas A X-ray Image NASA/CXC/SAO
Jpg (68 k)
Tif (2.0 MB)
PS (1.1 MB)


E0102-72 is a supernova remnant in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. This galaxy is 190,000 light years from Earth. E0102 -72, which is approximately a thousand years old, is believed to have resulted from the explosion of a massive star. Stretching across forty light years of space, the multi-million degree source resembles a flaming cosmic wheel.

Fast Facts for E0102-72:
Credit NASA/CXC/SAO
Scale  Image is 1 arcmin on a side.
Category  Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 01h 04m 02s | Dec -72º 01' 56"
Constellation  Tucana (Tuc)
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
Distance Estimate  190,000 light years
Release Date  September 20, 1999

More Information on E0102-72:
Press Room: Chandra Images Provide New Vision of Cosmic Explosions
More Images of E0102-72
E0102 -72 Handout: html | pdf
Download image for your desktop
Related Chandra Images:
Photo Album: E0102-72.3 (14 Jan 00)
Photo Album: E0102-72.3 Composite (20 Sep 99)


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G21.5-0.9 Chandra Cas A X-ray Image NASA/CXC/SAO
Jpg (143 k)
Tif (1.5 MB)
PS (1.1 MB)

The identification of G21.5-0.9 as the remnant of a supernova explosion is based on indirect evidence from radio and X-ray observations. At both radio and X-ray wavelengths, it appears as round patch in the sky. Detailed observations with radio telescopes confirm that the radio waves are produced by high energy electrons spiraling around magnetic field lines (synchrotron radiation). The X-rays are probably produced by the same process, but the electrons involved have energies many thousands times higher than those that produce the radio waves. The favored theory is that the high-energy electrons responsible for both the radio and X-ray emission are produced by a rapidly rotating, highly magnetized neutron star left behind when a massive star exploded some 40,000 years ago.


Fast Facts for G21.5-0.9:
Credit NASA/CXC/SAO
Scale  Image is 7.5 arcmin on a side.
Category  Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 18h 33m 34s | Dec -10º 34' 7"
Constellation  Scutum (Sct)
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
Distance Estimate  About 16,000 light years
Release Date  September 20, 1999

More Information on G21.5-0.9:
Press Room: Chandra Images Provide New Vision of Cosmic Explosions
More Images of G21.5-0.9
G21.5-0.9 Handout: html | pdf


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PSR 0540-69 Chandra Cas A X-ray Image NASA/CXC/SAO
Jpg (236 k)
Tif (1.7 MB)
PS (4.1 MB)

PSR 0540-69 is a neutron star, or pulsar, that is rotating very rapidly, making a complete rotation every one-twentieth of a second. It is similar in many ways to the famous Crab Nebula pulsar. Both objects are spinning rapidly, are about 1,000 years old and are surrounded by a large cloud of gas and high-energy particles. The surrounding cloud in both cases is powered by the conversion of rotational energy of the neutron star into high energy particles through the combined action of rapid rotation and a strong magnetic field. PSR 0540-69 is 160,000 light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, one the Milky Way's small satellite galaxies.

Fast Facts for PSR 0540-69:
Credit NASA/CXC/SAO
Scale  Image is 2 arcmin on a side.
Category  Supernovas & Supernova Remnants , Neutron Stars/X-ray Binaries
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 05h 40m 11s | Dec -69º 19' 55"
Constellation  Dorado (Dor)
Observation Date  August 31, 1999
Observation Time  5.4 hours
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  HRC
Distance Estimate  160,000 light years
Release Date  September 20, 1999


More Information on PSR 0540-69:
Press Room: Chandra Images Provide New Vision of Cosmic Explosions
More Images of PSR 0540-69
PSR 0540-69 Handout: html | pdf
Related Chandra Images:
Photo Album: SNR 0540-69.3 (20 Apr 04)
More Information on Supernovas & Supernova Remnants:
X-ray Astronomy Field Guide: Supernovas
Multimedia: Supernovas Explosion
Related Activities: Supernovas Word Search (java enhanced)
Powerpoint and PDF
Questions and Answers: Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Chandra Images: Supernovas & Supernova Remnants



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