Thursday, September 11, 2014

Puppis A: An X-ray Tapestry

Puppis A
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/IAFE/G.Dubner et al & ESA/XMM-Newton

The destructive results of a powerful supernova explosion reveal themselves in a delicate tapestry of X-ray light, as seen in this image from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton.

The image shows the remains of a supernova that would have been witnessed on Earth about 3,700 years ago. The remnant is called Puppis A, and is around 7,000 light years away and about 10 light years across. This image provides the most complete and detailed X-ray view of Puppis A ever obtained, made by combining a mosaic of different Chandra and XMM-Newton observations. Low-energy X-rays are shown in red, medium-energy X-rays are in green and high energy X-rays are colored blue.

These observations act as a probe of the gas surrounding Puppis A, known as the interstellar medium. The complex appearance of the remnant shows that Puppis A is expanding into an interstellar medium that probably has a knotty structure.

Supernova explosions forge the heavy elements that can provide the raw material from which future generations of stars and planets will form. Studying how supernova remnants expand into the galaxy and interact with other material provides critical clues into our own origins.

A paper describing these results was published in the July 2013 issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is available online. The first author is Gloria Dubner from the Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio in Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Fast Facts for Puppis A:

Release Date: September 10, 2014
Scale: Image is about 1.5 degrees across (About 180 light years)
Category: Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000): RA 08h 23m 08.16s | Dec -42º 41' 41.40"
Constellation: Puppis
Observation Date: 9 pointings between January 2000 and November 2010
Observation Time: 44 hours 45 min (1 day 20 hours 45 min).
Obs. ID: 750, 1949-1951, 5564, 6371, 12548, 13183
Instrument: ACIS
References: Dubner, G. et al, 2013, A&A, 555; arXiv:1305.1275; Arendt, R. et al, 2010, ApJ 725:585  
Color Code: X-ray (Red, Green, Blue)
Distance Estimate: About 7,000 light years