Chandra view of the erosion of an interstellar cloud by a supernova blast wave
Credit: Chandra: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang et al.; ROSAT: NASA/GSFC/S.Snowden et al.

Interstellar Explosion Erosion

Supernovae explosions don't occur in a vacuum - although it's pretty close. Although supernovae are one of the main ways in which stars alter their host galaxies, it's rare that astronomers get a clear view of how this process occurs in detail. But thanks to the exceptional clarity of the X-ray images obtained by the Chandra X-ray observatory, astronomers can now see exactly how these interactions take place. The image above shows a full view of the Puppis A supernova remnant seen in X-rays by ROSAT, and (in the inset) a high resolution view of a small portion of the remnant seen by Chandra. The Chandra image (in which color specifies X-ray energies: Red 0.4-0.7 keV; Green 0.7-1.2 keV; Blue 1.2-10 keV) apparently shows an interstellar cloud being blown apart by the shock wave produced by the supernova. The remains of this cloud appear as a box-like "shell" near the center of the Chandra image. The shocked gas in the remnant is incredibly hot, which is why it can be so well studied by X-ray telescopes like ROSAT and Chandra.

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