Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2000 April 14
Explanation: Not all stars form a big Q after they explode. The shape of supernova remnant E0102-72, however, is giving astronomers a clue about how tremendous explosions disperse elements and interact with surrounded gas. The above image is a composite of three different photographs in three different types of light. Radio waves, shown in red, trace high-energy electrons spiraling around magnetic field lines in the shock wave expanding out from the detonated star. Optical light, shown in green, traces clumps of relatively cool gas that includes oxygen. X-rays, shown in blue, show relatively hot gas that has been heated to millions of degrees. This gas has been heated by an inward moving shock wave that has rebounded from a collision with existing or slower moving gas. This big Q currently measures 40 light-years across and was found in our neighbouring SMC galaxy. Perhaps we would know even more if we could buy a vowel.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.