Tag Archives: supernova

Question: what could possibly shoot out a neutron star like a cannonball? Answer: a supernova. But you knew that. To wit:

About 10,000 years ago, the supernova that created the nebular remnant CTB 1 not only destroyed a massive star but blasted its newly formed neutron star core — a pulsar — out into the Milky Way Galaxy. The pulsar, spinning 8.7 times a second, was discovered using downloadable software Einstein@Home searching through data taken by NASA’s orbiting Fermi Gamma-Ray Observatory. Traveling over 1,000 kilometers per second, the pulsar PSR J0002+6216 (J0002 for short) has already left the supernova remnant CTB 1, and is even fast enough to leave our Galaxy. Pictured, the trail of the pulsar is visible extending to the lower left of the supernova remnant. The featured image is a combination of radio images from the VLA and DRAO radio observatories, as well as data archived from NASA’s orbiting IRAS infrared observatory. It is well known that supernovas can act as cannons, and even that pulsars can act as cannonballs — what is not known is how supernovas do it.

(ImageF. Schinzel et al. (NRAONSF), Canadian Galactic Plane Survey (DRAO), NASA (IRAS); Composition: Jayanne English (U. Manitoba)

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Behold: G292.0+1.8 – a fine young supernova 20,000 light years away toward the southern constellation Centaurus. So what are we looking at here?

Massive stars spend their brief lives furiously burning nuclear fuel. Through fusion at extreme temperatures and densities surrounding the stellar core, nuclei of light elements like Hydrogen and Helium are combined to heavier elements like Carbon, Oxygen, etc. in a progression which ends with Iron. So a supernova explosion, a massive star’s inevitable and spectacular demise, blasts back into space debris enriched in heavier elements to be incorporated into other stars and planets and people. This detailed false-colour x-ray image from the orbiting Chandra Observatory shows such a hot, expanding stellar debris cloud about 36 light-years across. […] Light from the inital supernova explosion reached Earth an estimated 1,600 years ago. Bluish colors highlight filaments of the mulitmillion degree gas which are exceptionally rich in Oxygen, Neon, and Magnesium. This enriching supernova also produced a pulsar in its aftermath, a rotating neutron star remnant of the collapsed stellar core. The stunning image was released as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

(Image: NASA/CXC/SAO)

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Using old school analogue visual effects like ink dispersing in an aquarium and pinholes in tissue paper to represent stars, Thomas Vanz creates a very impressive and highly plausible representation of a dying sun going supernova. To wit:

Novae is a movie about an astronomical event that occurs during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star’s life, whose dramatic and catastrophic death is marked by one final titanic explosion called supernova. By only using an aquarium, ink and water, this film is also an attempt to represent the giant with the small without any computed generated imagery.

Vanz shows how he did it here and here.

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