Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
About 600 years ago (as we see it) the southern constellation Dorado would have had a new spectacle appear on the night sky in the form of a Type 1a supernova. We may not have been around to witness the event but today we see its 600 year old remnants living on in the form of this beautiful red, spherical structure which will likely expand and carry on for a few tens of thousands of years.
What we’re seeing appears to be calm and unchanging but in reality even long after a supernova explodes it’s still a highly violent situation as this bubble of material is expanding out at a few thousand kilometers per second. The star that caused this beautiful mess was actually two stars. A white dwarf star siphoned material from its companion star until it eventually stole enough material that it couldn’t handle it and became unstable. This is called the Chandrasekhar limit (which is 1.4 solar masses) and when this threshold is reached by white dwarf stars things go downhill real quick. Let’s just say, you don’t want to be on a star system in the vicinity of destruction on this scale.
NAME: SNR B0519-69.0, SNR 0519.
WHAT IS IT?: Super Nova Remnant (SNR).
HOW BIG IS IT?: About 25 light years in diameter.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: 160,000 light years.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Dorado (The Dolphinfish).
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 05h 19m 34.90s / Dec -69º 02′ 07.30″.
ESA Space Telescope page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1317a/
NASA Hubble mission page for this image: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/snr-0519.html