Clumpy-looking supernova remnant Tycho captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory

Did the explosion itself cause this clumpiness, or was it something that happened afterward?


The Chandra X-ray Observatory operated by NASA, has captured some intriguing images of the vast and mysterious supernova remnant Tycho's Nova.

Tycho's supernova (which also goes by 'SN 1572' and Tycho's Nova), was thought to be a newly-formed star when it was discovered by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in November 1572. From a constellation, roughly 10,000 light-years away called Cassiopeia, a remnant of the Tycho supernova was captured by NASA's top X-ray observatory Chandra in an eye-opening new image.

Tycho's Nova is a Type Ia supernova, formed when a white dwarf star pulls material from (or merges with) a nearby companion star. Type Ia supernovae also end in a violent explosion, where the white dwarf is obliterated to smithereens, and the debris from it sent hurtling into space in all directions.

Clumpy-looking supernova remnant Tycho captured by NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory

X-ray images of Tycho’s supernova remnant (Tycho’s SNR) show a pattern of bright clumps and fainter holes. Image: NASA/Chandra

Some four hundred years after Tycho supernova was discovered, astronomers have discovered clumpy-looking dark and white patterns in Tycho's debris. This is evidence to show that the new star isn't new at all. In fact, it signals the death of a star in a fiery supernova — an explosion so bright it can outshine light coming from entire galaxies.

In its 2o functional years, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has captured some unparalleled X-ray images of supernova remnants, including Tycho's. Chandra's latest observations show an intriguing pattern of bright clumps and fainter areas in Tycho.

"What caused this thicket of knots in the aftermath of this explosion?" Dr Toshiki Sato, an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.

"Did the explosion itself cause this clumpiness, or was it something that happened afterwards?"

The new images of Tycho captured by Chandra (above) is offering some clues, NASA said.

To emphasise the clumps in the image and the three-dimensional nature of Tycho, scientists narrowed down to two bands of X-ray energy to gather information from (silicon, coloured in red) moving away from Earth, and moving towards us (also silicon, but coloured in blue).

A broad range of different energies, elements, and a mixture of directions of motion are represented in other colours (yellow, green, blue-green, orange and purple). Chandra’s X-ray data has been superimposed with an optical image of the stars in the same field of view from the Digitised Sky Survey.

Also read: AstroSat's first images capture a supernova that's over 10,000 light-years away

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