Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Spectacular Needle in a Stack of Needles

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has recently returned one amazing shot of a supernova, just 140 years after the explosion occurred. (Supernova is what we call a star after it explodes near the end of its lifecycle.) The exploded star, dubbed G1.9+03, is located in the constellation Sagittarius about 25,000 light years from earth.

First, let's check out the stack from which this shot was plucked. Below you'll see a wide shot of space. The densest cluster of stars (upper right) is the center of our galaxy. The square highlights where G1.9+.03 is located. Pound360 would like to note how incredible it is that we can find anything in this wonderful mess…


Next, we have the actual explosion. It seems still, quiet. But this explosion is expanding at 35 million miles per hour (about 5 percent the speed of light). According to a NASA press release, this is "an unprecedented expansion speed for a supernova remnant." Also, the G1.9+0.3 explosion "has generated the most energetic electrons ever seen in a supernova remnant."


(Photos courtesy NASA)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.