September 26, 2023

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Webb reveals amazing new structures inside the famous supernova

Webb reveals amazing new structures inside the famous supernova

The Webb NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) captured this detailed image of SN 1987A (Supernova 1987A) with unprecedented clarity, revealing new structures and deepening our understanding of this celestial event. Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Mikako Matsuura (Cardiff University), Richard Arendt (NASA-GSFC, UMBC), Claes Fransson (Stockholm University), Josephine Larsson (KTH), Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Small crescent-like structures are clearly visible.

NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope New details about supernova 1987A revealed using the NIRCam (near infrared camera) instrument. The structures, some of which are only visible at infrared wavelengths, provide clues about the evolution of supernovae over time.

Supernova 1987A (Webb NIRCam compass image)

The Webb NIRCam (near infrared camera) captured this detailed image of SN 1987A (Supernova 1987A), which has been annotated to highlight key structures. In the center, the material ejected from the supernova forms a keyhole shape. To its left and right are faint crescents recently discovered by Webb. Behind them is an equatorial ring, made of material ejected tens of thousands of years before the supernova explosion, containing bright hotspots. Outside of that there is diffuse emission and two faint outer rings. In this image, blue represents light at 1.5 microns (F150W), cyan 1.64 and 2.0 microns (F164N, F200W), yellow 3.23 microns (F323N), orange 4.05 microns (F405N), and red 4.44 microns (F444W).
Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Mikako Matsuura (Cardiff University), Richard Arendt (NASA-GSFC, UMBC), Claes Fransson (Stockholm University), Josephine Larsson (KTH), Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

The Webb Space Telescope reveals new structures inside the famous supernova

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has begun studying one of the most famous supernovas, SN 1987A (Supernova 1987A). Located 168,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, SN 1987A has been the target of intense observations at wavelengths ranging from gamma rays to radio for nearly 40 years, since its discovery in February 1987. The infrared camera) provides crucial evidence for our understanding of how A supernova over time to form its remnants.

Key monitoring features

This image reveals a central keyhole-like structure. This center is filled with gas and dust emitted by the supernova explosion. The dust is so dense that even the near-infrared light detected by Webb cannot penetrate it, forming the dark “hole” of the keyhole.

This is a timeline of photos taken by Hubble Space TelescopeThe Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and Advanced Camera for Surveys show changes in the ring of matter surrounding a star explosion called Supernova 1987A. This stunning light show is of debris colliding with the ring of gas surrounding the site of the explosion as seen from September 24, 1994, to November 28, 2003. Image credit: NASA and L. Barranger (STScI); Images: NASA, b. Challis, R. Kirshner (Harvard Smithsonian CFA), B. Sugerman (STScI)

A shiny tropical ring surrounds the inner keyhole, forming a band around the waist that connects two pale arms of hourglass-shaped outer rings. The equatorial ring, which formed from material ejected tens of thousands of years before the supernova exploded, contains bright hotspots that appeared when the supernova’s shock wave hit the ring (see video above). There are now spots even outside the ring, with diffuse emission surrounding them. These are the sites of supernova impacts that strike more outer matter.

Comparative insights and new discoveries

While these structures have been observed to varying degrees by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and the Chandra These crescents are believed to be part of the outer layers of gas released from the supernova explosion. Its brightness may be an indication of edge brightness, an optical phenomenon that results from viewing matter expanding in three dimensions. In other words, our angle of view makes it appear as if there is more matter in these two crescents than there might actually be.

Multiple wavelength display of Supernova 1987A

Astronomers combined observations from three different observatories (the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, in red; Hubble, in green; and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, in blue) to produce this multi-wavelength color image of the complex remnant of Supernova 1987A.
Image source: NASA, ESA, A. Angelich (NRAO, AUI, NSF)
Hubble image: NASA, ESA, R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation)
Chandra image: NASA/CXC/Penn State/K. Frank et al.
ALMA Image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) and R. Indebetouw (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

The high resolution of these images is also noteworthy. Before Webb, the now-retired Spitzer telescope observed this supernova in infrared light over its entire lifetime, yielding key data on how its emissions evolved over time. However, he was never able to do that Watching Supernova in such clarity and detail.

Unraveling mysteries and future studies

Despite decades of study since the initial discovery of the supernova, there are many mysteries that remain, especially surrounding the supernova. Neutron star Which should have been formed in the wake of the supernova explosion.

Like Spitzer, Webb will continue to monitor the supernova over time. The NIRSpec (Near Infrared Spectrometer) and MIRI (Mid Infrared Infrared Instrument) instruments will provide astronomers the ability to capture new, high-resolution infrared data over time and gain new insights into newly identified crescent structures. Furthermore, Webb will continue to collaborate with Hubble, Chandra, and other observatories to provide new insights into the past and future of this legendary supernova.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s leading space science observatory. Webb solves the mysteries of our solar system, looks beyond the distant worlds around other stars, and explores the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. WEB is an international program led by NASA with its partners the European Space Agency (ESA).European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

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