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Transcript
Cassiopeia A
WHO: Cassiopeia A (Cas A) is a relatively young
supernova remnant in the Milky Way galaxy.
WHAT: A supernova remnant is the expanding
debris field of hot gas and energetic particles created when a massive star explodes.
WHERE: Cas A, at a distance of 11,000 light years
from Earth, is in the constellation Cassiopeia. This
constellation is widely known for its “W” shape
that Greek and Roman mythology identified as a
queen’s throne.
WHEN: Although the exact date is uncertain, this
supernova would have appeared in the night sky
about 330 years ago.
HOW: The supernova that created Cas A is
thought to have occurred when a star about
25 times as massive as the Sun ran out of fuel for
nuclear power. Its core then collapsed to form an
ultra-dense object called a neutron star, and the
outer layers of the star were ejected at enormous
speeds (see illustration below).
WHY: Supernovas occur about once every 50 years
in the Galaxy when stars much more massive than
our Sun die. They energize their surroundings and
disperse the heavy elements (e.g., green & blue
in the image) forged within these stellar interiors.
Supernova remnants reveal information about the
grand Galactic drama of life, death and renewal.
More at: http://chandra.harvard.edu
X-rays from
NASA’s Chandra
Stellar
Nursery
Optical data
from NASA’s Hubble
Infrared emission
from NASA’s Spitzer
Stellar
Nursery
Illustration of Stellar Evolution Path
Neutron
Star
Protostar
Blue Supergiant
Red Giant
Blue Giant
Type II Supernova
Constellation Cassiopeia