The Grimm Supernova

By Phil Plait | December 21, 2005 11:23 pm

I was poking around the web a little while ago looking for an image of a supernova remnant, an exploded star. I found this one from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory:

Pretty neat, huh? This is the expanding gas from a star that blew up in the year 1006, and this is what it looks like after 1000 years. The gas is still way hot, millions of degrees, so it emits X-rays. Chandra detects these high-energy photons, and can construct an image out of them.

So when I found this image, I thought it was cool. But I just knew it looked familiar somehow. Suddenly, I had it! I knew where I’d seen it before! I saw it when I was a kid, in my brother’s comic books.

What can I say? It’s clobberin’ time!

What were you expecting? Michael Chiklis?

Tip of the Bad Beret to Space News Blog for reminding me of this.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Humor

Comments (27)

  1. Antipodean

    LOL, interesting comparison

    Why do the areas on some of the sides expand at different rates to the rest?

    I would have thought it would have expanded roughly spherically

  2. Nigel Depledge

    Antipodean, it appears that very few SN remnants are exactly spherical. Apparently, before the star explodes, there’s some turbulence or density gradients or something that causes the explosions nevre to be symmetrical. I think this particular image is from a Type I SN, in which a white dwarf in a binary system accretes material from its companion until the accreted material is either dense enough or hitting the surface of the dwarf at such a rate as to ignite fusion. So I would not expect this type of SN to show spherical symmetry.

    BA, are you planning to review the bad astronomy in the F4 Movie at any point (didn’t they only get a few minutes’ warning of the arrival of the solar flare…?)?

  3. Bahaha, thanks a lot Phil. You’ve forever tainted my memory of SN1006. ūüėõ

  4. Argh it’s a alian sculpture!

  5. JL

    As I stated in another post, space is AWESOME! This pic is after 1000 years and temps are estimated to still be in the millions?! The size of the universe and the power contained in its stars is… I can’t think of a proper word for the immensity of it all…

  6. Rodrigo

    Parabéns pela iniciativa!
    Ótimo blog.


    Frase perferida:

    “A ci√ɬ™ncia √ɬ© a procura da verdade. N√ɬ£o √ɬ© um jogo no qual uma pessoa tenta prejudicar outras pessoas”.

  7. Dude

    I see a face in the planet, and I’m not talking about the “thing”

  8. George

    Looks like this one is headed our way, too. A whole new meaning to Brothers Grimm. Apparently, we are not all made of the same stardust.

    Very enjoyable. Thanks. [You might want to consider a new shower curtain; you’re seeing too many faces. ;)]

  9. Well, this image has been on the net for a long time … I saw it first when it appeared on the universetoday news.One thing is cool .. that Chandra is capable of sending us back such high resolution and neat images.This supernova remant looks as if a colored liquid is expanding under an external force.

  10. aiabx

    Funny how different it looks from the Crab Nebula. That’s a complex universe for ya.
    I wish I had the time to examine astro-images for signs of Jesus, Elvis and the Thing.
    -Andy B

  11. KingNor

    Yer losin it pal

  12. I always thought it was cool that exploding stuff created things of such profound importance, like some heavy elements. :) (Which the local paper mangled, unfortunately: it reported that supernovae are the only source of elements heavier than helium.)

  13. TRACY

    It’s got to be the space equivelant of the little pac-man gobbler thing.
    Very cool.

  14. Supernova kewl ~ movie was boring!

  15. If you squint your eyes a little it is a spitting image of King Kong. Oh no! not another sequel…. :*)

  16. Antipodean

    King Kong – what a horrible movie

  17. Spiny Anteater

    Did it blow up in 1006 or was it observed in 1006 (i.e., how far away is it)?

  18. It was observed here on Earth in 1006. It’s about 7100 LY distant.

  19. blizno

    I’ve wondered about something for a long time. The material is at millions of degrees. It’s very diffuse. I understand that the heat can’t conduct away because the atoms aren’t touching anything, but why doesn’t the heat radiate away? At millions of degrees the atoms should be radiating heat like mad.

  20. blizno, it is radiating madly. That’s why we can see it! But remember the scale here: it’s very large, but very diffuse. There are lots of atoms radiating, but that’s the only way it can shed heat (it’s too thin to do it by conduction, where yopu need atoms touching). It takes a while for the atoms to emit an X-ray photon, so it can stay radiating for thousands of years.

  21. blizno

    It’s mind-boggling to try to imagine the amount of energy involved. I can’t do it!
    I have another question. I’m sure everything in the vicinity of the star got toasted by the blast. If a ship or very fast moving rock moved into the remains a few years after the explosion, would it be heated to those temperatures by the radiation? That’s an enormous volume of space to be cooked for that many centuries.

    Last question, why does the atom need a long time to emit a photon? Is it gaining energy from somewhere else, such as the surround very hot atoms, or is it a probabilistic thing, where the electons need to jump around into just the right shells before a photon can appear?

    The universe is amazing! Why do so many folks get excited about pastries forming in the shapes of famous people? This is MUCH more interesting.

  22. Hey, at least it doesn’t look like Mother Teresa…

  23. Irishman

    Nigel Depledge Said:
    >BA, are you planning to review the bad astronomy in the F4 Movie at any point (didn√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘt they only get a few minutes√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘ warning of the arrival of the solar flare√Ę‚ā¨¬¶?)?

    Actually, it wasn’t a solar flare, it was some mysterious special morphing energy cloud. And they actually anticipated the event by a long time, that’s what they were there to study, the cloud just for some reason appeared ahead of schedule. But since it wasn’t a solar flare, that point is kinda irrelevant.

  24. Ever lovin’ blue-eyed Thing. Mama Grimm’s favorite son.


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