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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
Click for high-resolution animation
1. 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
2. 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)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of Cassiopeia A
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Over three hundred years ago, a very large star ran out of fuel and collapsed. This event created an explosion, known as a supernova, which then produced an expanding field of debris. This debris field is what we now call the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. Astronomers studying this supernova remnant have found something very interesting. They determined that some of the inner layers of the star before the supernova explosion are now found on the outer edges of the supernova remnant. In other words, it appears that the star has turned itself out, so to speak, at the end of its life. Supernovas and the remnants they create spread elements like carbon, oxygen, and iron into the next generation of stars and planets. Therefore, understanding exactly how these stars explode is very important for knowing how the Universe has gotten to where it is today.
[Runtime: 01:02]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Chandra X-ray Element Map
QuicktimeMPEG This video of the Chandra X-ray images shows the distribution of iron, sulfur and magnesium in the supernova remnant. The data show that the distributions of sulfur and silicon are similar, as are the distributions of magnesium and neon. Oxygen, which according to theoretical models is the most abundant element in the remnant, is difficult to detect because the X-ray emission characteristic of oxygen ions is strongly absorbed by gas in along the line of sight to Cas A, and because almost all the oxygen ions have had all their electrons stripped away.
[Runtime: 00:16]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of G350.1-0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only G350.1+0.3 is a young and exceptionally bright supernova remnant located nearly 15,000 light years from Earth toward the center of the Milky Way. While many supernova remnants are nearly circular, G350.1+0.3 has a strikingly unusual appearance. X-rays from Chandra and infrared data from Spitzer outline this bizarre shape, which astronomers think comes from the stellar debris field expanding into a nearby cloud of cold gas. With an age of between 600 and 1,200 years old, G350.1+0.3 is in the same time frame as other famous supernovas that formed the Crab and SN 1006 supernova remnants. However, it is unlikely that anyone on Earth would have seen the explosion because too much gas and dust lies along our line of sight to the remnant, blocking the view.
[Runtime: 00:59]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of SXP 1062
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The Milky Way galaxy has several small satellite galaxies very close to it. One of them is called the Small Magellanic Cloud. Astronomers using several telescopes - including the Chandra X-ray Observatory - spotted an unusual object in the SMC. The source is known as SXP 1062 and may be the first pulsar found within the remains of a supernova explosion. X-ray data from Chandra and XMM-Newton also show that SXP 1062 is rotating unusually slowly - about once every 18 minutes. In contrast, some pulsars are found to revolve multiple times per second, including most newly born pulsars. Scientists have determined the pulsar was born between ten and forty thousand years ago. While this may sound like a long time, it is a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. Therefore, it is a mystery why SXP 1062 has been able to slow down by so much, so quickly.
[Runtime: 01:12]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of RCW 86
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only In 185 A.D., Chinese astronomers noted a "guest star" that mysteriously appeared in the sky and stayed for about 8 months. By the 1960s, scientists had determined that the mysterious object was, in fact, a supernova. Later, they figured out that this supernova remnant, now known as RCW 86, was located about 8,000 light years away. Today, astronomers have taken data from four different telescopes to make this stunning new image of RCW 86. Here, X-rays from Chandra and XMM-Newton have been combined with infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and the WISE mission. Taken together, these data show that the explosion from nearly 2,000 years ago was caused by a so-called Type Ia supernova. This type of supernova happens when a white dwarf star pulls too much material from a companion star, causing a thermonuclear explosion to go off.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of G299.2-2.9
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only G299.2-2.9 is an intriguing supernova remnant found about 16,000 light years away in the Milky Way galaxy. Here we see the remnant in X-rays from Chandra overlaid on infrared data from the Two-Micron All-Sky Survey. Astronomers have gathered evidence that shows this remnant is the aftermath of what is called a Type Ia supernova. Type Ias happen when a white dwarf grows too massive and violently explodes. Astronomers want to understand the exact details of how Type Ias explode because they use them to measure the accelerated expansion of the universe and study dark energy. Because it is older than most Type Ias found so far, G299.2-2.9 provides astronomers with an excellent opportunity to study how these important objects evolve over time.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of the Crab
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The Crab Nebula is one of the brightest sources of high-energy radiation in the sky. Little wonder - it's the expanding remains of an exploded star, a supernova seen in 1054. Scientists have used virtually every telescope at their disposal, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, to study the Crab. The supernova left behind a magnetized neutron star - a pulsar. It's about the size of Washington DC, but it spins 30 times a second. Each rotation sweeps a lighthouse-like beam past us, creating a pulse of electromagnetic energy detectable across the spectrum.

Here's what the sky looks like in high-energy gamma rays. The pulsar in the Crab Nebula is among the brightest sources. Recently, NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray Observatory and Italy's AGILE Satellite detected strong gamma-ray flares from the Crab, including a series of "superflares" in April 2011. To help pinpoint the location of these flares, astronomers enlisted Chandra.

With its keen X-ray eyes, Chandra saw lots of activity, but none of it seems correlated with the superflare. This hints that whatever is causing the flares is happening with about a third of a light year from the pulsar. And rapid changes in the rise and fall of gamma rays imply that the emission region is very small, comparable in size to our Solar System.

The Chandra observations will likely help scientists to home in on an explanation of the gamma-ray flares one day. The Chandra data provide strong constraints on the behavior, at relatively low energies, of the particles that have been accelerated to produce the gamma-ray flares. Even after a thousand years, the heart of this shattered star still offers scientists glimpses of staggering energies and cutting edge science.
[Runtime: 02:14]
(NASA/CXC/MSFC/M.Weisskopf et al & A.Hobart)

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Click for high-resolution animation
10. Chandra Motion Sequence of Crab Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG A new movie from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows a sequence of Chandra images of the Crab Nebula, taken over an interval of seven months. Dramatic variations are seen, including the expansion of a ring of X-ray emission around the pulsar (white dot near center) and changes in the knots within this ring. Chandra began observing the Crab on monthly intervals beginning six days after the discovery of the gamma-ray flare in September 2010. This established a baseline of seven images of the nebula before the superflare was seen just last month. When scientists saw that more flaring activity was beginning in April 2011, a pre-planned set of five Chandra observations was initiated. Two of these observations were made when strong gamma-ray flares occurred, but no clear evidence was seen for correlated flares in the Chandra images. The movie shows the April observations in "slow motion" to focus on the time when the gamma-ray superflares occurred. The movie shows three loops through the sequence of images, along with a timeline near the bottom.
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(NASA/CXC/MSFC/M.Weisskopf et al & A.Hobart)

Related Chandra Images: