Edge of a Remnant

New images obtained by the Chandra X-ray Observatory continue to provide astounding new looks at previously well-studied objects. The supernova remnant N132D is a case in point. This remnant is about 180,000 light years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and its age is probably about 3000 years. The image above was obtained by Chandra's High Resolution Camera (HRC) after a pass through an edge detection algorithm to highlight sharp detail. The original image is available at the Chandra web site. The Chandra X-ray image shows a highly structured shell of 10 million degree gas that is 80 light years across. The N132D supernova remnant appears to be colliding with a giant molecular cloud, which produces the brightening on rim of the remnant at the bottom of the image. The relatively weak X-radiation on the upper left shows that the shock wave is expanding into a less dense region on the edge of the molecular cloud. A number of small circular structures are visible in the central regions and a hint of a large circular loop can be seen in the upper part of the remnant. The unprecedented spatial detail provided by the HRC image allows astrophysicists the opportunity to model in detail the interaction of the supernova ejecta with the circumstellar medium and study in detail into the formation and distribution of chemical elements into the galactic neighborhood.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified February 14, 2000