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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. Kepler: The Star That Lived Two Lives
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only In 1604, a new star appeared in the night sky. It shone brighter than all the other stars, and for three weeks, it was even visible during the day&33; This mysterious beacon marked the explosive death of a nearby star. These explosions are called supernovas, and they give off so much light that for a few weeks, they can outshine a galaxy of billions of stars! Then, slowly they fade away, leaving behind beautiful glowing clouds of gas, like the one in this picture.But let's travel back to a few million years earlier, because the story of this star gets even more interesting. The star that exploded in 1604 began its life as an average star, similar to our Sun. When an average-sized star dies, the result is much less dramatic than a powerful supernova. Instead of exploding, it expands to become a red giant and then collapses. The material from the centre of the star ends up squashed tightly down into a tiny, heavy ball called a white dwarf star. This is how this star died for the first time, long before 1604. But how did it end up dying a second time? Well, astronomers have recently discovered the answer to that question. The white dwarf had a companion, an enormous red giant star. Even though the red giant was much larger, the white dwarf's gravity was much stronger. It began to rip gas off its companion, pulling the material onto itself. Eventually the star's own greed led to its demise. It stole so much material that it became unstable, leading to the spectacular explosion that our ancestors saw&33;
[Runtime: 02:29]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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2. Tour of G1.9+0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Astronomers estimate that a star explodes as a supernova in our Galaxy, on average, about twice per century. In 2008, a team of scientists announced they discovered the remains of a supernova that is the most recent, in Earth's time frame, known to have occurred in the Milky Way. The explosion would have been visible from Earth a little more than a hundred years ago, if it hadn't been heavily obscured by dust and gas. Today, that object is known as the supernova G1.9+0.3 or G1.9 for short. A new long observation -- equivalent to more than 11 days of Chandra time -- of explosion's debris field is providing new details about G1.9. The source of G1.9 was most likely a white dwarf star that underwent a thermonuclear detonation and was destroyed - either after merging with another white dwarf or by pulling too much material from an orbiting companion star. The explosion ejected the remains of the destroyed star, creating the supernova remnant seen today by Chandra and other telescopes. The new Chandra data show that the explosion that created G1.9 was different than other supernovas like it. For starters, the remnant's debris is unevenly distributed, while most other supernova remnant are highly symmetrical. Also, researchers found that some of the debris - particularly iron that would have been in the star's core before the explosion -- is moving at extremely high speeds. By combining these clues from the Chandra data with theoretical models, scientists think that the explosion that created G1.9 must have been highly irregular and abnormally energetic.
[Runtime: 01:56]
(NASA/CXC/J. DePasquale)

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3. Tour of SN 1006
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This year, astronomers around the world have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of X-ray astronomy. Few objects better illustrate the progress of the field in the past half-century than the supernova remnant known as SN 1006.

When the object we now call SN 1006 first appeared on May 1, 1006 A.D., it was far brighter than Venus and visible during the daytime for weeks. Astronomers in China, Japan, Europe, and the Arab world all documented this spectacular sight. With the advent of the Space Age in the 1960s, scientists were able to launch instruments and detectors above Earth's atmosphere to observe the Universe in wavelengths that are blocked from the ground, including X-rays. SN 1006 was one of the faintest X-ray sources detected by the first generation of X-ray satellites. A new image of SN 1006 from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals this supernova remnant in exquisite detail. By overlapping ten different pointings of Chandra's field-of-view, astronomers have stitched together a cosmic tapestry of the debris field that was created when a white dwarf star exploded, sending its material hurtling into space. The kind of supernova is called Type Ia, and astronomers use observations of these explosions in distant galaxies as mileposts to mark the expansion of the Universe. The new Chandra data provide new details about these important objects. In many ways, SN 1006 represents just how far we have come in exploring our Universe in the past fifty years and the progress we continue to make.
[Runtime: 01:46]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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4. Tour of Kepler's Supernova Remnant
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Over 400 years ago, Johannes Kepler and many others witnessed the appearance of a new "star" in the sky. Today, this object is known as the Kepler supernova remnant. For some time, astronomers have thought that the Kepler remnant comes from a so-called Type Ia supernova. These supernovas are the result of a thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf. However, there is an ongoing controversy about Type Ia supernovas. Are they caused by a white dwarf pulling so much material from a companion star that it becomes unstable and explodes? Or do they result from the merger of two white dwarfs? New Chandra images reveal a disk-shaped structure near the center of the remnant. Researchers interpret this X-ray emission to be caused by the collision between supernova debris and disk-shaped material that a giant star expelled before the explosion. This and other pieces of evidence suggest that at least the Type Ia explosion that created Kepler was not the result of a merger between white dwarfs. Since these supernovas are used to measure the expansion of the Universe itself, astronomers are eager to understand them inside and out.
[Runtime: 01:26]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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5. Simulation of Kepler supernova explosion
QuicktimeMPEG This video shows a simulation of the Kepler supernova as it interacts with material expelled by the giant star companion to the white dwarf before the latter exploded. It was assumed that the bulk of this material was expelled in a disk-like structure, with a gas density that is ten times higher at the equator, running from left to right, than at the poles. The colors represent the density of the gas, using a rainbow distribution, with red showing the highest densities, followed by orange, yellow and green, then blue showing the lowest densities. Note the dense structure on the left and right of the explosion. This simulation was performed in two dimensions, so this is a cross-section of the explosion. The simulation has to be projected into three dimensions to compare with observations. The good agreement with Chandra and Spitzer data supports the author's interpretation of the disk-like structure they observed.
[Runtime: 00:13]
(NASA/CXC/NCSU/J.Blondin et al.)

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6. Tour of W49B
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The supernova remnant known as W49B is, let's say, a bit unorthodox looking. Many supernova remnants appear rather spherical in shape. This is in large part because astronomers think that most supernovas explode more or less evenly in all directions. W49B, however, is an exception to that rule. Researchers instead think that the star that created W49B ejected more material at higher speeds from its poles than from its equator during its explosion. The result is this unusual barrel-shaped remnant we see today. While most supernovas leave behind a dense rotating core called a neutron star, there is no evidence that one is present within W49B. This and other evidence suggest that an even more exotic object, that is, a black hole, was produced during the explosion. Since W49B's explosion occurred about a thousand years ago as seen from Earth, this means this may be the most recent black hole formed in our Milky Way galaxy.
[Runtime: 01.13]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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7. Learn About Supernovas
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Supernovas are some of the most dramatic events in the cosmos. These titanic events send shockwaves rumbling through space and create giant bubbles of gas that have been superheated to millions of degrees.
Chandra has captured supernovas and the remnants they've left behind in spectacular X-ray images.
Chandra's images help to determine the energy, composition and dynamics of these celestial explosions.
See supernovas through Chandra's eyes.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of Kepler's Supernova Remnant
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This image of Kepler's supernova remnant shows the expanding ball of debris from a supernova explosion in our galaxy. The supernova itself was seen in 1604 by Johannes Kepler and others. The different colors in the Chandra X-ray data show different energies in the supernova remnant, and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey shows stars in the field. The Kepler supernova was the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf. New analysis suggests that the supernova explosion was not only more powerful, but might have also occurred at a greater distance, than previously thought.
[Runtime: 00:43]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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9. Tour of IGR J11014-6103
QuicktimeMPEG Has the speediest pulsar been found? That's the question that astronomers are asking after three different telescopes looked at the pulsar known as IGR J11014-6103. This pulsar was found racing away from a supernova remnant located about 30,000 light years from Earth. An image from the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite shows a glowing debris field in X-rays. This is the remains of a massive star that exploded thousands of years before. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers were able to focus their attention on a small, comet-shaped X-ray source outside the boundary of this supernova remnant. It appears that this object, thought to be a rapidly spinning, incredibly dense star - which astronomers call a "pulsar" -- was ejected during the supernova explosion. Researchers calculate that this pulsar may be dashing away from the supernova at speeds of about 6 million miles per hour. If this result is confirmed, it would make this pulsar the fastest ever seen.
[Runtime: 01:08]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of SN 2010jl
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Why are some supernovas much more powerful than others? Astronomers are still trying to figure that out, but one new discovery may help answer the question. On November 3, 2010, a supernova was discovered in a galaxy located about 160 million light years from Earth. When astronomers used the Chandra X-ray Observatory to look at it, they found some very interesting clues. The Chandra data showed evidence that the shock wave formed by the supernova was, in fact, breaking through a cocoon of gas. This cocoon was probably formed when the star expelled its outer layers before finally collapsing on itself and exploding as a supernova. By observing this supernova just weeks after the initial explosion, scientists were able to learn more about this supernova and potentially others as they try to better understand how some stars die.
[Runtime: 01:01]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/Royal Military College of Canada/P.Chandra et al); Optical: NASA/STScI)

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