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