X-ray and IR composite of W49b
Credit: NASA/CXC/SSC/J. Keohane et al.

Normal to a Burst?

A dramatic new image of the supernova remnant W49b suggests that this supernovae may have been a powerful "jet-drive" explosion which occurred in our own Galaxy. The image above is a composite of an X-ray image (in blue) obtained by the Chandra X-ray observatory and infrared images (in red and green) from the Palomar observatory. The bar-shaped X-ray emission in the image may be evidence of a high-powered jet of the type that forms when certain very massive stars create a black hole at the end of their life. Astronomers think the jets powered their way into cooler gas which was ejected from the star during its evolution. The view of the supernova from earth, believed to be nearly normal to the jet axis, would have been not quite as spectacular as the view down along the jet - anyone lucky (or unlucky) to view the event from such a vantage would have seen an incredibly bright gamma-ray burst.

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