Tag: SNR 0509

A delicately violent celestial shell game

By Phil Plait | December 16, 2010 7:00 am

One of my favorite types of objects in space are the thin, ethereal shells of gas stars create when they die. So I was thrilled* to see this new image of one taken in exquisite detail by the Hubble Space Telescope:

hst_snr0509

[Click to supernovenate.]

I studied weird soap bubbles like this for quite some time for both my post-graduate degrees, and they still fascinate me. This one, called SNR 0509, is actually a very interesting example. There are lots of ring-shaped objects in the sky — the Helix nebula (seen below) may be the most canonical — but usually the ring itself is thick, the width of the band being a large fraction of the object diameter itself. Why does SNR 0509 have such a thin ring?
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures, Top Post
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