September 03

remnants of a supernova that exploded in 1604 Photo Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/D.Patnaude, Optical: DSS

Image of the Day

Kepler Supernova Remnant

In 1604, famed astronomer Johannes Kepler reported seeing a supernova, a pair of stars exploding in space.

In fact, the explosion had happened tens of thousands of years ago, but the light did not reach the earth until that time. Until recently, though, scientists were unaware of how far away the stars had been.

However, recent findings from the Chandra X-ray Observatory have given astronomers a better estimate of the stars' original place in the universe: Located in the constellation Ophiuchus, the supernova remnant is 16,000-23,000+ light-years away from earth.

What remains of the supernova can be seen in this image. It is the remnant of a Type Ia supernova, which results when a white dwarf star explodes violently, usually after two white dwarf stars collide or after a white dwarf usurps the mass of a nearby "companion" star. A Type Ia supernova creates a great deal of light and energy.

To learn more about stars, visit these Science NetLinks resources:

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