NASA x-ray image shows off ancient supernova in fine detail

Apr 17, 2013

Back in May 1006 AD, a bright star appeared in the sky that was observed and written about by astromers across the globe. Now known as SN 1006, this supernova was detected by modern astronomers back in the 1960s using the very first round of x-ray satellites, which produced a faint image. Fast forward a handful of decades, and thanks to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, we now have a bright, detailed image of this ancient supernova.

The SN 1006 supernova was created when a white dwarf star exploded, with reporting that it is located approximately 7,000 light years from our planet. Specifically, this particular supernova, which is classified as a Type Ia, resulted from either a merging with another white dwarf, or from the star pulling mass from a companion star, resulting in an explosion beyond any Michael Bay movie.

The image created by NASA’s Chandra was the result of more than 8 days of observation and 10 points of observation. The images at each point were taken in low, medium, and high-energy x-ray snapshot, with each resulting in red, green, and blue colors, respectively. While the image along is interesting, it is also of much relevance to researchers – supernovas such as SN 1006 are used to help figure out how fast the universe is expanding.

The latest image of SN 1006 is the most detailed yet of any Type Ia supernova, and provides the ability to look at other areas concerning this particular white dwarf star’s remnants. For example, researchers have determined that certain material elements are traveling between 7m and 11 million miles per hour outward from the area. Likewise, we might one day see a reconstructed image of what the star looked like.

[via Phys]

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