Wednesday, June 18, 2008

First Image of Exploding Star Captured

Scientists have been studying supernova, the remnants of exploded stars for decades, but for the first time, they've captured images of a star exploding. In a NASA press release, one scientist put the achievement in perspective, "This newly born supernova is going to be the Rosetta stone of supernova studies for years to come."

According to
Reuters coverage of the event, the red supergiant that exploded (named SN 2008D) was 500-times the size of our own sun and located one billion light years away.

The image at right (courtesy NASA) shows the X-ray burst when SN 2008 exploded (top) and a broad shot of the galaxy where the explosion occurred (bottom). In the top image, that speck in the circle labeled SN 2007uy is where a supernova across the galaxy is.

When a star explodes, the shockwave spreads at 20 million miles per hour, shines "one billion times brighter than the sun," and spreads heavy metals like nickel, gold and iron: the stuff planets like Earth are made of. So studying supernova gives us some insight into how planets are eventually created.

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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.