Stunning image shows ghostly remnants of a supernova first documented 1,800 years ago by Chinese astronomers
The ghostly remnants of a supernova first documented 1,800 years ago by Chinese astronomers have been captured in an image by a camera that hunts for dark energy.
The supernova, SN 185, was first recorded in 185 BC as a “guest star” because it was a new bright light appearing in the night sky.
Although it is the first recorded supernova, all that remains is a ring of debris called RCW 86.
The impressive image, taken at an observatory in Chile, shows wispy tendrils of gas and dust clouds scattered across a swath of space, with glowing stars twinkling all around.
This historic supernova occurred more than 8,000 light-years away in the approximate direction of Alpha Centauri, between the constellations Circinus and Centaurus.
This is the first recorded supernova, described by scientists in 185 BC. The Chinese astronomers documented it as a ‘guest star’
The image was taken with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) mounted on the Víctor M. Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, part of the National Science Foundation.
Scientists said the image sheds light on how the supernova remnants have evolved over the past 1,800 years.
“DECam’s amazingly wide vision enabled astronomers to create this rare image of the entire supernova remnant as seen today,” the team shared in a statement. rack.
Astronomers have long believed that it would take about 10,000 years for a ring to form after a giant star exploded in a supernova.
But the latest discovery shows it could happen in just 2,000 years.
While the image is spectacular, a deeper look into the ring revealed large amounts of iron that researchers said is “a telltale sign of a different kind of explosion.”
This explosion is a Type la supernova, “an explosion that occurs in a binary star system when a dense white dwarf (the end-of-life remnants of a star like our sun) siphons material from its companion star to the point of explosion,” read the press release.
The stunning image was captured by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) mounted on the Víctor M. Blanco telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (pictured), part of the National Science Foundation
Astronomers now have a more complete picture of how RCW 86 came to be.
“As the binary system’s white dwarf gobbled up material from its companion star, its high-velocity winds pushed out the surrounding gas and dust, creating the cavity we observe today,” the team said.
When the white dwarf could no longer bear mass falling on it from its companion star, it exploded in a violent outburst.
“The previously formed cavity provided enough space for the remnants of high-velocity stars to expand very quickly and create the monumental features we see today.”
SUPERNOVAE OCCURS WHEN A GIANT STAR EXPLODES
A supernova occurs when a star explodes, shooting debris and particles into space.
A supernova only burns for a short time, but can tell scientists a lot about how the universe came to be.
One kind of supernova has shown scientists that we live in an expanding universe, one that is growing faster and faster.
Scientists have also determined that supernovae play a key role in spreading elements throughout the universe.
In 1987, astronomers saw a “titanic supernova” in a nearby galaxy that flared up with the power of more than 100 million suns (pictured)
There are two known types of supernova.
The first type occurs in binary star systems when one of the two stars, a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, steals matter from its companion star.
Eventually, the white dwarf accumulates too much matter, causing the star to explode, resulting in a supernova.
The second type of supernova occurs at the end of a single star’s life.
As the star runs out of nuclear fuel, some of its mass flows toward its core.
Eventually, the core is so heavy that it can no longer withstand its own gravity and the core collapses, resulting in another gigantic explosion.
Many elements found on Earth are made in the cores of stars, and these elements travel on to form new stars, planets, and everything else in the universe.