Supernova remnant N132D as seen by Chandra's High Resolution Camera

Resolving Important Astrophysical Issues

The supernova remnant N132D is about 180,000 light years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and its probably about 3000 years old. The image above was obtained by the High Resolution Camera (HRC) on the Chandra X-ray Observatory, after a pass through an edge detection algorithm to resolve 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 is too cold to be seen in the Chandra image), 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 how supernovae create and distribute chemical elements into their galactic neighborhood. Unfortunately the HRC suffered an electrical glitch in February 2022, which caused a pause in operations while scientists and engineers pinpoint the cause of the problem. New tests give hope that observations with the HRC will be restored in time for the next round of Chandra observations.
Published: September 12, 2022

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 19-Sep-2022 15:28:20 EDT