Double Supernova
DEM L316

Gemini Double Supernova
Gemini Double Supernova
Item# N8108
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Product Description

Are these two supernova shells related? To help find out, the 8-meter Gemini Telescope located high atop a mountain in Chile was pointed at the unusual, huge, double-lobed cloud dubbed DEM L316. The resulting image, shown above, yields tremendous detail. Inspection of the image as well as data taken by the orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory indicate how different the two supernova remnants are. In particular, the smaller shell appears to be the result of Type Ia supernova where a white dwarf exploded, while the larger shell appears to be the result of a Type II supernova where a massive normal star exploded. Since those two stellar types evolve on such different time scales, they likely did not form together and so are likely not physically associated. Considering also that no evidence exists that the shells are colliding, the two shells are now hypothesized to be superposed by chance. DEM L316 lies about 160,000 light years away in the neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) galaxy, spans about 140 light-years across, and appears toward the southern constellation of the Swordfish (Dorado).

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 object, but the latest research indicates that it is really comprised of two distinct gas and dust clouds formed by different types of supernova explosions.

The new image reveals the intricate tendrils of gas and dust located in the remnants of the stellar explosions that created the still-expanding cloud complex. The object was first recognized in the early 1970s as a supernova remnant, a type of object that is enriched with elements created in stellar explosions. The nebula was likely created a few tens of thousands of years ago by more than one type of supernova exploding in this region of the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Text: APOD