Chandra Supernova
SN 1006

Chandra Supernova
Chandra Supernova
Item# C1006
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Product Description

2008-SN1006c - A new star, likely the brightest supernova in recorded human history, lit up planet Earth's sky in the year 1006 AD. The expanding debris cloud from the stellar explosion, found in the southerly constellation of Lupus, still puts on a cosmic light show across the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, this composite view includes X-ray data in blue from the Chandra Observatory, optical data in yellowish hues, and radio image data in red. Now known as the SN 1006 supernova remnant, the debris cloud appears to be about 60 light-years across and is understood to represent the remains of a white dwarf star. Part of a binary star system, the compact white dwarf gradually captured material from its companion star. The buildup in mass finally triggered a thermonuclear explosion that destroyed the dwarf star. Because the distance to the supernova remnant is about 7,000 light-years, that explosion actually happened 7,000 years before the light reached Earth in 1006. Shockwaves in the remnant accelerate particles to extreme energies and are thought to be a source of the mysterious cosmic rays.

Text: APOD Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Zolt Levay (STScI)

Just over a thousand years ago, the stellar explosion known as supernova SN 1006 was observed. It was brighter than Venus, and visible during the day for weeks. The brightest supernova ever recorded on Earth, this spectacular light show was documented in China, Japan, Europe, and the Arab world.

Ancient observers were treated to this celestial fireworks display without understanding its cause or implications. Astronomers now understand that SN 1006 was caused by a white dwarf star that captured mass from a companion star until the white dwarf became unstable and exploded. Recent observations of the remnant of SN 1006 reveal the liberation of elements such as iron that were previously locked up inside the star. Because no material falls back into a neutron star or black hole after this type of supernova explosion, the liberation of this star's contents is complete. It represents, therefore, a cosmic version of Independence Day for this star.

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/G.Cassam-Chenaļ, J.Hughes et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF/GBT/VLA/Dyer, Maddalena & Cornwell; Optical: Middlebury College/F.Winkler, NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO Schmidt & DSS

Text: APOD

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