Credit: K. Flanagan, et al., 2004,
The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 605, pg. 230
The Small Magellanic Cloud is the Milky Way's galactic neighbor. The SMC is much smaller than the Milky Way, and is irregular in shape. Another important difference is that the SMC has fewer complex atoms than are found in the gas and dust of the Milky Way. This probably means that the SMC has fewer "factories" which pollute the SMC's environment. However, there are some. One example is the a supernova remnant called
1E0102-7219 shown above. This image was obtained by the spectrograph on the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The spectrograph's gratings spread the light from the supernova out by wavelength, which generates multiple images of the circular supernova in the light of particular atomic species, like oxygen, neon, magnesium, and silicon. By studying such images astronomers can determine how these atoms are distributed by the supernova explosion, and can begin to understand the three dimensional structure of the remnant as well.
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:24:07 EDT