Million Second look at Cas A by Chandra
Credit: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang et al.

Now with Enhanced Silicon

The image above may be the best X-ray image of a supernova remnant that will ever be obtained. It's a million-second Chandra exposure on the Cas A supernova remnant, the remains of a star which exploded about 320 years ago. Astronomers now think that, during the supernova explosion, a massive star will form 2 oppositely directed jets close to the stellar core, which rapidly move outward and blow the star apart. This observation gives some support to this theory, but also raises new questions. The image on the left shows the relative energy of the emitted X-rays as colors (red for low-energy X-rays, green for high-energy X-rays, and blue for emission from ionized iron atoms) while the image on the right shows X-ray emission from highly ionized silicon atoms. The silicon image apparently shows 2 jets running diagonally from upper left to lower right. The relatively high proportion of silicon in the jets compared to iron suggests that these jets formed very soon after the initial explosion.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:24:07 EDT