Supernova remnant is an unusual suspect

Jun 09, 2009
The main graphic shows the area around SNR 0104 in infrared light from Spitzer (red and green) and X-rays from Chandra (purple). The inset shows a close-up of SNR 0104. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/S. Park and J. Lee; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A new image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows a supernova remnant with a different look. This object, known as SNR 0104-72.3 (SNR 0104 for short), is in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a small neighboring galaxy to the Milky Way. Astronomers think that SNR 0104 is the remains of a so-called Type Ia supernova caused by the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf.

In this composite made of X-rays from Chandra shown in purple and infrared data from Spitzer shown in green and red, SNR 0104 looks unlike other likely Type Ia remnants found in our own Galaxy. While objects such as the Kepler and Tycho supernova remnants appear circular, the shape of SNR 0104 in X-rays is not. Instead, the image is dominated by two bright lobes of emission (seen to the upper right and lower left). The large amount of iron in these lobes indicates that SNR 0104 was likely formed by a Type Ia supernova.

One possible explanation for this structure is that the explosion of the white dwarf itself was strongly asymmetrical and produced two jets of iron. Another possibility is that the complicated environment seen in the image is responsible. The green shells on the left and right side of SNR 0104 correspond to surrounding material that has been swept up by the explosion. So, the unusual shape of the remnant might be caused by a lack of material to the north and south of the star to interrupt the outward path of the stellar debris. This explanation, however, is still in question and scientists hope more data from Chandra and other telescopes will help settle the debate.

The presence of a nearby massive star and the shells of gas and dust seen in the wide-field view from Spitzer shows that SNR 0104 might be located within a star-forming region. This suggests that SNR 0104 may belong to a little-studied class of so-called "prompt" Type Ia supernovas caused by the demise of younger, more than average. Again, more data will be needed to test this theory.

This research was led by Sangwook Park and Jae-Joon Lee of Penn State University and was presented at the 214th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, California. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

Source: Center (news : web)

Explore further: Thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars set speed record

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chandra Spies Cosmic Fireworks

Jul 14, 2006

The Chandra X-ray Observatory has captured the remains of four supernovas in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, showing multi-million-degree gas that has been heated by shock waves from the explosions.

X-ray Evidence Supports Possible New Class Of Supernova

Jan 04, 2007

Evidence for a significant new class of supernova has been found with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. These results strengthen the case for a population of stars ...

An Oxygen Factory in a Nearby Galaxy

Mar 17, 2008

This Chandra X-ray Observatory image shows the debris of a massive star explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy about 160,000 light years from Earth.

Action replay of powerful stellar explosion

Mar 20, 2008

Astronomers have made the best ever determination of the power of a supernova explosion that was visible from Earth long ago. By observing the remnant of a supernova and a light echo from the initial outburst, ...

W28: A Mixed Bag of Supernova Remnant

Jun 04, 2008

When some stars die, they explode as supernovas and their debris fields (aka, "supernova remnants") expand into the surrounding environments. There are several different types, or categories, of supernova ...

Supernova Remnants Dance in the LMC

Jan 10, 2008

The Gemini South Multi-Object Spectograph (GMOS) recently captured a dramatic image of a vast cloud complex named DEM L316 located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The peanut-shaped nebula appears to be a single ...

Recommended for you

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

12 hours ago

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Jun 09, 2009
NEUTRON REPULSION PRODUCES COSMIC EXPLOSIONS, EJECTS IRON

". . . the explosion of the white dwarf itself was strongly asymmetrical and produced two jets of iron."

Iron is the most stable form of nuclear matter.

Neutron stars are the most unstable form of nuclear matter.

The transition powers the Sun, ordinary stars and cosmic explosions. http://tinyurl.com/mw7mhu

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://myprofile....anuelo09