June 19, 2024

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Webb reveals amazing new structures inside a famous supernova

Webb reveals amazing new structures inside a famous supernova

The Webb NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) captured this detailed image of SN 1987A (supernova 1987A) with unprecedented clarity, revealing new structures and deepening our understanding of this celestial event. Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Mikako Matsuura (Cardiff University), Richard Arndt (NASA-GSFC, UMBC), Claes Franson (Stockholm University), Josephine Larsson (KTH), Alisa Pagan (STScI)

Small, crescent-shaped structures are clearly visible.

NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope New details about Supernova 1987A have been revealed using the NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) instrument. The structures, some of which are only visible in infrared wavelengths, provide clues about the evolution of supernovae over time.

Supernova 1987A (Webb NIRCam compass image)

The Webb NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) captured this detailed image of SN 1987A (Supernova 1987A), which has been annotated to highlight key structures. At the center, the material ejected from the supernova forms a keyhole. To his left and right are faint crescents, recently discovered by Webb. Behind them is an equatorial ring, made of material ejected tens of thousands of years before the supernova exploded, containing bright hot spots. Outside that is diffuse emission and two faint outer rings. In this image, blue represents light at 1.5 microns (F150W), cyan at 1.64 and 2.0 microns (F164N, F200W), yellow at 3.23 microns (F323N), orange at 4.05 microns (F405N), and red at 4.44 microns (F444W).
Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Mikako Matsuura (Cardiff University), Richard Arndt (NASA-GSFC, UMBC), Claes Franson (Stockholm University), Josephine Larsson (KTH), Alisa Pagan (STScI)

The Webb Space Telescope reveals new structures inside the famous supernova

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has begun studying one of the most famous supernovae, SN 1987A (Supernova 1987A). SN 1987A is located 168,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and has been the target of intense observations at wavelengths ranging from gamma rays to radio for nearly 40 years, since its discovery in February of 1987. The infrared camera) provides crucial evidence for our understanding of how the planet evolved. supernova over time to form its remnants.

Key monitoring features

This image reveals a central keyhole-like structure. This center is filled with gas and dust from the supernova explosion. The dust is so dense that even the near-infrared light Webb detects cannot penetrate through it, forming the dark “hole” in the keyhole.

This timeline of photos taken by Hubble Space TelescopeThe Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys show changes in the ring of matter surrounding a starburst called Supernova 1987A. This amazing light show is the collision of debris with the gas ring surrounding the site of the explosion as seen from September 24, 1994 to November 28, 2003. Image credit: NASA and L. Barranger (STScI); Images: NASA, b. Challis, R. Kirchner (Harvard Smithsonian Cfa), B. Sugarman (STScI)

A sparkling tropical ring surrounds the inner keyhole, forming a band around the waist that connects two faded arms of the outer hourglass rings. The equatorial ring, which formed from material ejected tens of thousands of years before the supernova exploded, contains bright hot spots that appeared when the supernova shock wave hit the ring (see video above). There are now spots even outside the ring, with diffuse emission surrounding them. These are the sites of supernova shocks that hit more of the outer material.

Comparative insights and new discoveries

While these structures have been observed to varying degrees by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, Webb’s unparalleled sensitivity and spatial resolution revealed a new feature in the supernova remnants – small, crescent-like structures. These crescents are believed to be part of the outer layers of gas released from the supernova explosion. Their brightness may be an indication of limb brightness, an optical phenomenon that results from seeing expanding matter in three dimensions. In other words, our angle of view makes it appear as if there is more matter in these two crescents than there might actually be.

Multi-wavelength view of Supernova 1987A

Astronomers combined observations from three different observatories (Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, red; Hubble, green; and Chandra X-ray Observatory, blue) to produce this multi-wavelength color image of the complex remnant of supernova 1987A.
Image source: NASA, ESA, A. Angelich (NRAO, AUI, NSF)
Hubble image: NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation)
Chandra image: NASA/CXC/Penn State/K. Frank et al.
ALMA image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) and R. Indebetouw (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

The high resolution of these images is also noteworthy. Prior to Webb, the now-retired Spitzer Telescope had observed this infrared supernova over its entire lifetime, yielding key data on how its emissions evolved over time. However, he was never able to watching The supernova in such clarity and detail.

Unraveling mysteries and future studies

Despite decades of study since the supernova’s initial discovery, many mysteries remain, especially surrounding the supernova. neutron star which should have formed in the aftermath of a supernova explosion.

Like Spitzer, Webb will continue to monitor the supernova over time. The NIRSpec (Near Infrared Spectrometer) and MIRI (Medium Infrared Instrument) instruments will give astronomers the ability to capture new high-resolution infrared data over time and gain new insights into newly identified crescent structures. Moreover, Webb will continue to collaborate with Hubble, Chandra and other observatories to provide new insights into the past and future of this legendary supernova.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s leading space science observatory. Webb solves mysteries in our solar system, looks beyond the distant worlds around other stars, and explores the mysterious origins and structures of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners the European Space Agency (ESA).European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

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