Astronomy Picture of the Day

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.

2006 June 2
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IC 443: Supernova Remnant and Neutron Star
Credit: Chandra X-ray: NASA/CXC/B.Gaensler et al; ROSAT X-ray: NASA/ROSAT/Asaoka & Aschenbach;
Radio Wide: NRC/DRAO/D.Leahy; Radio Detail: NRAO/VLA; Optical: DSS

Explanation: IC 443 is typical of the aftermath of a stellar explosion, the ultimate fate of massive stars. Seen in this false-colour composite image, the supernova remnant is still glowing across the spectrum, from radio (blue) to optical (red) to x-ray (green) energies -- even though light from the stellar explosion that created the expanding cosmic cloud first reached planet Earth thousands of years ago. The odd thing about IC 443 is the apparent motion of its dense neutron star, the collapsed remnant of the stellar core. The close-up inset shows the swept-back wake created as the neutron star hurtles through the hot gas, but that direction is not aligned with the direction toward the apparent centre of the remnant. The misalignment suggests that the explosion site was offset from the centre or that fast-moving gas in the nebula has influenced the wake. The wide view of IC 443, also known as the Jellyfish nebula, spans about 65 light-years at the supernova remnant's estimated distance of 5,000 light-years.

Tomorrow's picture: gamma-ray Earth

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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