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Sunday, 1 February 2015

New 3D Map of Supernova Cassiopeia A Reveals Bubbly Interior

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Scientists have taken a closer look at one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy, Cassiopeia A. They've created a new 3D map of its interior that reveals surprising, never-before-seen details about the supernova. A photograph of Cas A from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals the supernova remnant's complex structure. (Photo : NASA/CXC/SAO)

Scientists have taken a closer look at one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy, Cassiopeia A. They've created a new 3D map of its interior that reveals surprising, never-before-seen details about the supernova.

Cassiopeia A, or Cas A, was first created about 340 years ago. That's when a massive star exploded in the constellation Cassiopeia. The extremely hot and radioactive material that streamed outward from the stars core mixed and churned outer debris, creating a supernova remnant.

That said, examining the complex physics behind these explosions is difficult to model. That's why researchers have carefully studied relatively young supernova remnants like Cas A to investigate key processes that drive these stellar explosions.

To create the new 3D map, the researchers examined Cas A in near-infrared wavelengths of light using the Mayall 4-meter telescope in Arizone. Then, spectroscopy gave them the expansion velocities of extremely faint material in Cas A's interior, which provided them with the third dimension.

"We're sort of like bomb squad investigators," said Dan Milisavljevic, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We examine the debris to learn what blew up and how it blew up. Our study represents a major step forward in our understanding of how stars actually explode."

The new 3D map reveals bubble-like cavities within the exploded star. These cavities were likely created by plumes of radioactive nickel generated during the stellar explosion. Since the nickel will decay to form iron, it's likely that Cas A's interior bubbles will be enriched with as much as a tenth of a solar mass of iron.

The findings reveal a bit more about the interiors of supernovae. This, in turn, may help inform future studies of these exploded stars.

The findings are published in the journal Science.

Source : Scienceworldreport