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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 RCW 103
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only When stars have more than about 8 times as much mass as the Sun, they end their lives in a spectacular explosion called a supernova. The outer layers of the star are hurtled out into space at millions of miles per hour, leaving a debris field of gas and dust. Where the star once was located, a small, incredibly dense object called a neutron star is often found. While only 10 miles or so across, the tightly packed neutrons in such a star contain more mass than the entire Sun.

The supernova remnant called RCW 103 is a by-product of one of these explosions and the neutron star it left behind, known as 1E 1613, is proving to be particularly interesting. For years, astronomers have known that 1E 1613 shows a regular brightening and dimming in its X-rays that repeats about every six and a half hours. It could be a neutron star that is rotating much more slowly than other neutron stars, or it could be a faster-spinning neutron star that has a normal star as a companion.

New data from four high-energy telescopes, Chandra, Swift, NuSTAR and XMM-Newton, have shown that the unusually slow spin is the correct explanation and that.1E 1613 has the properties of a magnetar. Magnetars are neutron stars that possess enormously powerful magnetic fields, trillions of times greater than that on the Sun.

While it is still unclear why 1E 1613 is spinning so slowly, scientists do have some ideas. One leading scenario is that debris from the exploded star has fallen back onto magnetic field lines around the spinning neutron star, causing it to spin more slowly with time. Searches are currently being made for other very slowly spinning magnetars to study this idea in more detail.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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2. Tour of G11.2-0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only While they may sound like very different and distinct fields, astronomy and history can intersect in very interesting and important ways. Take, for example, historical supernovas and their remnants. These are objects that astronomers observe today and that can also be linked to recordings in previous centuries or even millennia. Being able to tie a credible historical event with a supernova remnant observed today provides crucial information about these explosive stellar events.

Until now, the supernova remnant G11.2-0.3 was considered one of these historical supernova remnants. Previous studies have suggested that G11.2-0.3 was created in a supernova that was witnessed by Chinese astronomers in 386 CE. New Chandra data, however, of this circle shaped debris field, indicate that is not the case. The latest information from Chandra reveals that there are dense clouds of gas that lie between Earth and the supernova remnant. Therefore, it is not possible that much optical light from the supernova - the kind of light humans can see - would have penetrated the clouds and been visible with the naked eye at Earth. While it may no longer be a historical supernova remnant, G11.2-0.3 remains an intriguing and beautiful object that astronomers will continue to study.
[Runtime: 02:19]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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3. Radio Time-lapse of Tycho's Supernova Remnan
QuicktimeMPEG With some 30 years of observations in radio waves with the VLA, astronomers have also produced a movie, using three different images. Astronomers have used the X-ray and radio data to learn new things about this supernova and its remnant.
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4. Chandra X-ray Time-lapse of Tycho's Supernova Remnant
QuicktimeMPEG By combining observations from over 15 years with the Chandra X-ray Observatory and 30 years with the Very Large Array, scientists have been able to learn new things about Tycho's supernova remnant and the explosion that created it. This time-lapse movie shows the expansion of the Tycho remnant, allowing a detailed study of how the debris field is expanding. In a series of five images from Chandra taken between 2000 and 2015, low-energy X-rays are red, the medium band of X-rays is green, and the highest-energy X-rays Chandra detected are blue.
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(NASA/CXC/GSFC/B.Williams et al;)

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5. Tour of Tycho's Supernova Remnant
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only When the star that created this supernova remnant exploded in 1572, it was so bright that it was visible during the day. And though he wasn't the first or only person to observe this stellar spectacle, the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe wrote a book about his extensive observations of the event, gaining the honor of it being named after him.

In modern times, astronomers have observed the debris field from this explosion - what is now known as Tycho's supernova remnant - with many telescopes including the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Since much of the material being flung out from the shattered star has been heated by shock waves - similar to sonic booms from supersonic planes - passing through it, the remnant glows strongly in X-ray light.

Astronomers used Chandra observations from 2000 through 2015 to create the longest movie of the Tycho remnant's X-ray evolution over time - the first such movie of Tycho ever made. This movie shows that the expansion from the explosion is still continuing about 450 years after Tycho Brahe and others witnessed the event.

By combining the X-ray data with some 30 years of observations in radio waves with the VLA, also producing a movie, astronomers have used these data to learn new things about this supernova and its remnant.

So grab some popcorn and enjoy this early summer movie. It will be unlike any you'll see in the theater!
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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6. 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.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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7. 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.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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8. 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.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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9. 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.
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(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

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10. 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.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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