Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/MIT/D.Dewey et al. & NASA/CXC/SAO/J.DePasquale); Optical (NASA/STScI)
Forwards and Backwards
Stellar explosions are complex. In a galaxy close, close by (the Small Magellanic Cloud, to be exact), a massive star exploded about 10 centuries ago and sent debris outward into interstellar space. This outwardly moving debris collided with the gas and dust around it, creating a high temperature shock wave. An additional shock wave formed, moving backwards towards the source of the explosion. The image above shows this complex interaction in fine detail. This image is a composite X-ray image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory plus an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope. In the image above, the lowest-energy X-rays are colored orange, the intermediate-energy X-rays are cyan, and the highest-energy X-rays are blue. The blue X-rays show the material in the "forward shock", while the lower-energy orange emission shows the material heated by the "reverse shock". The optical image in red, green and blue shows cooler, higher density material in the remnant along with foreground stars in the field.
Published: August 10, 2009
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:24:07 EDT