Hubble spots expanding light echo around supernova

Hubble movie shows movement of light echo around exploded star
Light from Supernova Bouncing Off Giant Dust Cloud

Light from a supernova explosion in the nearby starburst galaxy M82 is reverberating off a huge dust cloud in interstellar space.

The supernova, called SN 2014J, occurred at the upper right of M82, and is marked by an "X." The supernova was discovered on Jan. 21, 2014.

The inset images at top reveal an expanding shell of light from the stellar explosion sweeping through , called a "light echo." The images were taken 10 months to nearly two years after the violent event (Nov. 6, 2014, to Oct. 12, 2016). The light is bouncing off a giant that extends 300 to 1,600 light-years from the supernova and is being reflected toward Earth.

SN 2014J is classified as a Type Ia supernova and is the closest such blast in at least four decades. A Type Ia supernova occurs in a binary star system consisting of a burned-out white dwarf and a companion star. The white dwarf explodes after the companion dumps too much material onto it.

The image of M82 reveals a bright blue disk, webs of shredded clouds, and fiery-looking plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out of its central regions.

Close encounters with its larger neighbor, the spiral galaxy M81, are compressing gas in M82 and stoking the birth of multiple star clusters. Some of these stars live for only a short time and die in cataclysmic supernova blasts, as shown by SN 2014J.

Hubble spots expanding light echo around supernova
Credit: NASA, ESA, and Y. Yang (Texas A&M University and Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) Acknowledgment: M. Mountain (AURA) and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Located 11.4 million light-years away, M82 appears high in the northern spring sky in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. It is also called the "Cigar Galaxy" because of the elliptical shape produced by the oblique tilt of its starry disk relative to our line of sight.

The M82 image was taken in 2006 by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The inset images of the also were taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

This video sequence takes the viewer into the nearby starburst galaxy M82, where a shell of light surrounding an exploding star is moving through interstellar space. The light was emitted from supernova SN 2014J, which was first observed in January 2014. Nearly three years later, light from the blast can still be seen reverberating off of interstellar dust clouds — an effect called a light echo. The sequence begins with the constellation Ursa Major, where the M82 galaxy resides. Then the view zooms up on the cigar-shaped M82 galaxy. Moving inside M82, the video ends with a shell of light expanding outward from the supernova blast and is repeated several times. M82 is located 11.4 million light-years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, J. DePasquale, and Z. Levay (STScI) Acknowledgment: Y. Yang (Texas A&M/Weizmann Institute of Science)

Explore further

Image: Starbursting in the galaxy M82

More information: "Interstellar-Medium Mapping in M82 Through Light Echoes Around Supernova 2014J," Yi Yang et al., 2017 Jan. 1, Astrophysical Journal … 7/1538-4357/834/1/60 , Arxiv:
Journal information: Astrophysical Journal , arXiv

Citation: Hubble spots expanding light echo around supernova (2017, November 9) retrieved 14 October 2019 from
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Nov 09, 2017
Didn't they want to shutdown Hubble years ago?

Nov 10, 2017
b1, I don't remember any serious effort to write-off the Hubble. Repair missions not only keep it operational but are good training for astronauts. In addition to all the upgrades over the years. The greatest expense was rocketing the materials and structure into orbit.

The Hubble continues to be a useful tool, even though there are newer satellites with more advanced technology. And a whole lot of public affection towards that project. It would take a major crisis, redirecting resources before any brave soul would cut the Hubble's funding!

I doubt if people realize how much of the Earth's sky view goes unwatched, even by amateurs.

The Hubble and other satellites have a real advantage, covering a lot more if not a 100% of the sky.

But even the older telescopes, all across the spectrum, and Meteor Watch system. They may not be the most sophisticated, however they still produce amateur and professional research and training for future astronauticals.

Nov 10, 2017
One of the things #physicscranks don't get about the Hubble is good glass is good glass, and the better we can make sensors the more we can upgrade it. Good glass in orbit is better than the best sensors we have. We should keep upgrading the Hubble until we exceed its diffraction limits. It will continue to be worth the money and effort to do so even with more sophisticated and larger instruments like the JWST.

Nov 16, 2017
It will continue to be worth the money and effort to do so even with more sophisticated and larger instruments like the JWST
But in the case of the JWST, it would be good beryllium in orbit ;-)

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