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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 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
2. 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:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Celebrates 15th Anniversary
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only To celebrate the 15th anniversary of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, we have released four new images of supernova remnants. These show Chandra's ability to study the remains of supernova explosions, using images that are the sharpest available in X-ray astronomy. The images of the Tycho and G292.0+1.8 supernova remnants show how Chandra can trace the expanding debris of an exploded star. The images show shock waves, similar to sonic booms from a supersonic plane, that travel through space at speeds of millions of miles per hour. The images of the Crab Nebula and 3C58 show the effects of very dense, rapidly spinning neutron stars created when a massive star explodes. These neutron stars can create clouds of high-energy particles that glow brightly in X-rays. The image for G292 shows oxygen (yellow and orange), and other elements such as magnesium (green) and silicon and sulfur (blue) that were forged in the star before it exploded. For the other images, the lower energy X-rays are shown in red and green and the highest energy X-rays are shown in blue.
[Runtime: 01:42]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. A Tour of The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only In fifteen years of operation, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has given us a view of the universe that is largely hidden from telescopes sensitive only to visible light.

Chandra has captured galaxy clusters - the largest gravitationally bound objects in the universe - in the process of forming, and provided the best evidence yet that the cosmos is dominated by a mysterious substance called dark matter.

Chandra has observed gas circling near a black hole's event horizon. The atoms of this gas are doomed to destruction by the extreme gravity of the black hole.

Most of the elements necessary for life are forged inside stars and blasted into interstellar space by supernovas. Chandra has tracked these elements with unprecedented accuracy.

Young stars are crackling with X-ray flares and other energetic radiation. By monitoring clusters of young stars, Chandra can give us a sense of what our young Sun was like when life was evolving on Earth.

Chandra: Taking us on a unique voyage into the big, bad and beautiful universe.
[Runtime: 02:01]
(NASA/CXC. Produced by A.Hobart (CXC), Directed by K.Arcand (CXC), Script by W.Tucker (CXC), Narration by Chris Camilleri;)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Sweeping Supernovas
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Supernovas are the spectacular ends to the lives of many massive stars. They are explosions that produce enormous amounts of energy and can shine as bright as an entire galaxy made up of billions of stars! These events are very important because the remains of the shattered star are hurled into space. This material goes on to form new stars, planets and moons - in fact, both you and I are made of supernova material! As these fields of leftover star material (called supernova remnants) expand, they sweep up all the material they encounter and carry it along with them.

This space photograph shows a 2200-year-old supernova remnant that is sweeping up a remarkable amount of material - enough to make 45 Suns! The blue material in the picture shows the supernova remnant, the space dust is shown in pink. The impressive amount of material swept up by this remnant may be the first clue that something special happened to this star before it exploded. Another clue is the temperature of the material, which is unusually hot and still emitting (sending out) high-energy X-rays. With 2200 years having passed since the supernova explosion, the remaining material has normally cooled much more. Unfortunately, you'll have to watch this space to find out the cause for these oddities, as scientists are still trying to figure it out themselves!
[Runtime: 02:03]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. The Space Olympics
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Nothing in space stays still. In fact, most stars are like long-distance marathon runners, as they are constantly moving in space throughout their lifetimes. However, astronomers have recently spotted a star (shown in this new space photo as a green smudge in the box) that is better at sprint running.

To work out the speed of this star, astronomers had to figure out how far it has travelled since it started its race and how long this took. Astronomers think the star began its race at the center of the purple cloud of gas and dust in the photo. That's because this is a special type of star that rotates very quickly, which is called a pulsar. And the pulsar was ejected during the explosion that created the cloud of gas and dust.

Based on their estimates, the astronomers think the pulsar is moving at an incredible speed of between 5 million and 7 million miles per hour! This could make it the fastest moving pulsar ever known! But there is a competitor for the title, as another pulsar has previously been estimated to be moving between 3 and 6 million miles per hour.

It's a pity astronomers can't enter these two stars into a 'Space Olympics' to determine which one is the fastest sprinter. Instead, they need to work it out the hard way and fine-tune their results.
[Runtime: 01:48]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of IGR J11014-6103
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Astronomers have found a remarkable object in our Milky Way galaxy. This object is a pulsar, the spinning dense core that remains after a massive star has exploded and collapsed. When this pulsar was created, something interesting happened because this pulsar is racing away from the supernova remnant where it was born at a speed between 2.5 million and 5 million miles per hour. This supersonic pace makes this pulsar - called IGR J1104-6103 -- one of the fastest moving pulsars ever observed. And what's more is that this runaway pulsar is leaving behind an extraordinary tail behind it as it goes. This tail is about 37 light years in length, making it the longest X-ray jet ever seen from an object in the Milky Way galaxy. New data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have been combined with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array to provide astronomers with a more complete picture of what's happening in this system. For example, these data show that the tail has a distinct corkscrew shape. This suggests that the pulsar is wobbling like a top as it spins. IGR J1104-6103 is located about 60 light years away from the center of the supernova remnant SNR MSH 11-61A, which is where astronomers think the pulsar was originally created. By examining the details of the pulsar, its jet, and the supernova remnant, astronomers are piecing together the story of this exceptional object in our Galaxy.
[Runtime: 01:54]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. The Big Explosion No One Saw
QuicktimeMPEG About once or twice every 100 years, a gigantic nuclear bomb detonates in our Galaxy. In just a few short weeks, it blasts out as much energy as our Sun will in its entire lifetime! This powerful explosion is called a 'supernova', and it is the result of a star dramatically ending its life.

The most recent supernova in our galaxy, the Milky Way, happened just over 100 years ago. But, unfortunately for our great-great-great grandparents, the explosion was hidden behind thick clouds of gas and cosmic dust, far away from the Earth. So they couldn't witness this very rare sight. Because of this cosmic dust, it wasn't until 2008 that a group of astronomers finally stumbled upon the remains of the obliterated star, which you can see in this photograph.

Normally, when a supernova like this happens, the star's material is blown out evenly in all directions. This leaves behind a cloud that is more or less neat and symmetrical, but the object in this picture doesn't follow a neat pattern. Most of the star's material was blasted towards the top of the picture, and it's still travelling in that direction extremely fast. From these clues, astronomers have deduced that this must have been an unusually energetic and messy supernova explosion!

As far as we know, the last supernova in the Milky Way was over 100 years ago. If they happen on average every 100 years or so, another one should be due really soon. Keep your eyes on the skies and you might be the one to spot it first!
[Runtime: 02:05]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Smithsonian X 3D Explorer
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only One of the most famous objects in the sky – the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant – is now on display like never before, thanks to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and a new project from the Smithsonian Institution. A new 3D viewer developed by the Smithsonian allows users to interact with one-of-a-kind objects like the Wright Brothers airplane and a 1,600-year-old stone Buddha. The only astronomical object in this special collection is Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short.

Back in 2009, scientists combined data from Chandra, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based facilities to construct a unique 3D model of Cas A, which is a 300-year old debris field that was created when as a massive star exploded. This new Smithsonian viewer will allow scientists and the public to tour this 3D model Cas A in exciting new ways by being able to fly around the remnant themselves. Users can also get more information about various parts of the supernova remnant by clicking on hotspots and following links to more in-depth articles. So we invite you to take a 3D ride unlike any you'll find at the movie theater and explore Cas A in in a brand new one way.
[Runtime: 02:09]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. A Study in Supernovas
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Like the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, astronomers have to be good at solving puzzles by piecing together clues and evidence. When scientists using the Chandra X-ray Observatory noticed the strange, distorted shape of this supernova remnant, they knew something unusual had taken place. After scouring through their data and arguing against other possibilities, astronomers realised they may have uncovered a dark secret lurking within this picture - a young black hole!

The supernova explosions that tear apart massive stars normally blast away material evenly in all directions and leave behind a symmetrical bubble (the same on both sides). However, in this supernova, material from the north and south poles of the star (yes, stars have poles, too!) was blasted out much faster than anywhere else. The resulting barrel-shaped remnant gave astronomers their first clue that this star's life ended in an unusual way.

Most of the time when a star goes supernova, the remaining core is squashed down into a tiny ball called a neutron star. Neutron stars normally give off X-ray radiation, which astronomers can photograph using special telescopes. But a careful search of the data showed no X-ray radiation or other evidence for a neutron star. This means an even more exotic object was probably formed during the explosion - a black hole! If this turns out to be correct, it'll be the youngest known black hole in our entire Galaxy, at just 27,000 years old!
[Runtime: 02:02]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images: