In Dying Color
X-ray color images of supernova remnants (the debris exploded out from dying stars) are providing astronomers with fascinating new insights into these titanic stellar blasts. The images above are two of the best examples. On the left is the Chandra image of the Cas A supernova remnant, produced by the death of a star initially many times more massive than our sun after exhaustion of its nuclear fuel. A point source at the center of the remnant is possibly the collapsed core of the star that exploded. On the right is an image of Tycho's supernova remnant (which was produced by a stellar explosion observed by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in 1572). The star which produced Tycho's Remnant is thought to have been produced by an explosion of a collapsed core of a star initially like the sun, after a companion transferred more mass than the collapsed object could withstand. Presumably most of the differences in morphology of the 2 remnants are due to the different causes of the stellar explosions. In each image, low energy X-rays produce red emission, medium produce green emission, and high energy X-rays produce blue emission. In the Chandra image of Tycho's Remnant, a hot blue shock wave of 20 million degree gas can be seen around the rim of the remnant.
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified September 9, 2002