NASA news: Remnant of a ‘cataclysmic explosion’ that tore apart a star is caught by Hubble

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The supernova remnant SNR 0454-67.2 is a reminder of how violent and unforgiving the universe can be. Photographed by NASA‘s Hubble telescope, the remnant sits in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy neighbouring the Milky Way. Supernova remnants are expanding nebulas or clouds of stellar gas that form during supernova explosions.

Supernovas themselves are the biggest known fireworks in the universe, typically triggered by the death of a star.

NASA said: “This dark, tangled web is an object named SNR 0454-67.2.

“It formed in a very violent fashion – it is a supernova remnant, created after a massive star ended its life in a cataclysmic explosion and threw its constituent material out into surrounding space.

“This created the messy formation we see in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, with threads of red snaking amidst dark, turbulent clouds.”

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NASA news: Hubble telescope snapped this photo of a supernova remnant (Image: NASA/ESA/GETTY)

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NASA’s astronomers believe SNR 0454-67.2 is the result of a Type Ia supernova.

Type Ia supernovas (SNIa) are believed to take place in binary star systems involving an Earth-sized white dwarf.

If the white dwarf collides with another star or pulls in too much stellar material it can explode.

Type Ia supernovas are believed to produce the brightest explosions.

The other supernova types are Type Ib supernovas, Type Ic supernovas, Type II supernovas and Type IIn supernova.

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NASA news: The supernova remnant is the aftermath of a violent eruption (Image: NASA/ESA)

It formed in a very violent fashion – it is a supernova remnant

NASA

NASA said: “As they always form via specific mechanism – when the white dwarf hits a particular mass – these explosions always have a well-known luminosity, and are thus used as markers (standard candles) for scientists to obtain and measure distances throughout the universe.”

In 1572, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe spotted a new bright object appearing in the constellation Cassiopeia.

The object was the Type Ia supernova officially dubbed SN 1572 or Tycho’s supernova.

In 2013, NASA’s Chandra X-Ray observatory snapped a detailed portrait of the intricate structures within the Tycho supernova remnant.

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NASA news: The Tycho supernova remant (Image: NASA)

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NASA news: The supernova remnant HBH3 (Image: NASA)

Then in 2018, NASA shared a snapshot of the supernova remnant HBH3 within the Milky Way.

The remnant was first observed in 1996 using radio telescopes.

HBH3 measures about 150 light-years or 881,793,810,000,000 miles across and is among the largest known supernova remnants.

NASA said: “It is possibly one of the oldest: Astronomers estimate the original explosion may have happened anywhere from 80,000 to one million years ago.

“In 2016, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope detected very high-energy light – called gamma rays – coming from the region near HBH 3.

“This emission may be coming from gas in one of the neighbouring star-forming regions, excited by powerful particles emitted by the supernova blast.”

The Crab Nebula is another famous supernova remnant located some 6,500 light-years from Earth.

Chinese astronomers first observed the supernova in the year 1054.


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