SUPERNOVA REMNANT N49 IN THE LARGE MEGELLANIC CLOUD.
Photo Credit: NASA Hubble Space Telescope & Chandra X-ray Observatory: CLICK photo to see full size and look below for links and information.
Here’s one for my southern hemisphere/equatorial friends (I hope youre enjoying summer by the way, please send it back). It’s a super nova remnant cataloged as N49 and it resides approximately 160,000 light years distant in the constellation Dorado. More specifically, it’s in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) which is a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy. What youre viewing here in terms of the structure as a whole is approximately 75 light years across a few thousand years old thus, with the travel time of 160,000 years that the light took to arrive here, the real-time age estimate would be just over that 160,000 years of age.
Originating from a Type-2 supernova (Where a massive star explodes) this structure has been somewhat of a mystery to astronomers, who have been puzzled over its lop sided shape. The interrior of this structure contains extremely hot gas reaching temperature upwards of a million degrees while the outer filaments of gas are a much more “pleasant” 10,000 to 300,000 degrees. What’s certian is that before the progenitor star died, its intense wind which cleared out a “bubble” around the star. When the star detonated, the shockwave impacted the dense bubble of material that it had previously created which has slowed the expansion considerably. All of this material that you see in this photo are similar to the very same elements that created our solar system. The Sun, the Earth and everything else to include you, me, and everyone you know and love was created from long exploded stars, just like this one. They are the ancestors of literally everything we are.
Supernovae remnants are really fantastic and dynamic structures. Aside from knowing that an entire solar sytem (or a few) just met their ends, they form such a variety of formations depending on the type of the supernova as well as whats going on in the now dead star’s surrounding environment. Sizes differ dramatically depending on how long theyve been in progress and the speed at which the material was ejected. One of my favorite objects in the galaxy. I’d say in the universe but all we can see are remnants in our own galaxy/satellite galaxies.
Were not done with this photo just yet. There are a few more amazing aspects yet to be told here. Like, what about the progenitor star, the one who died so that another star system may one day live….what became of it?
Well, the star is still there and active; however it’s very different. Although its supernova light reached Earth thousands of years ago it was on March 5, 1979 when Earths detectors were struck by a violent gamma-ray burst emitted from N49. The cause; a highly magnetic (One quadrillion times the strength of Earths magnetic field) neutron star/pulsar spinning at one revolution every eight seconds. That places the star in a rare category called a magnetar. To be even more precise, it’s in another rare category called a “Soft Gamma-Ray Repeater” or SGR for short.
The star in question is near the top-center of the structure. If you look at the bottom right of the structure you see a blue bullet shaped region thats being blown away in the opposite direction of the star at approximately 5 million miles per-hour.
In this photo, optical light captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is in yellow and X-ray emissions from Chandra are in blue.
NAME: N49, LMC N 49, DEM L 190,
WHAT IT IS?: Supernova remnent and the brightest optical light SNR in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Its progenitor star, a neutron star/pulsar/magnetar and a “Soft Gamma Ray Repeater” or SGR.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Approximately 75 light years in diameter.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 160,000 light years distant.
HOW OLD IS IT?: About 5 thousand years old as we see it. In reality it’s just over 160,000 years old counting travel time.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) in the constellation Dorado the Golden Fish.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/Dec J2000): RA 05h 25m 25s / Dec -65º 59′ 22.00″.
NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory page for this photo: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2010/n49/
Hubble optical light image: https://archive.org/details/CHAN-833
Hubble optical light image of this object: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2003/20
Spitzer Space Telescope page for this object: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/2181-sig06-030-Stellar-Debris-in-the-Large-Magellanic-Cloud