Tycho’s Supernova

In 1572, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe was among those who reported a new bright object in the constellation Cassiopeia. We now know that Tycho’s new star was not new at all. It was a supernova, a stellar explosion so bright that it can outshine the light from rest of the galaxy. This particular supernova was a Type Ia, which occurs when a white dwarf star pulls material from, or merges with, a nearby companion star until a violent explosion is triggered. The white dwarf star is obliterated, sending its debris hurtling into space.

This false color image of the remnant of Tycho’s supernova combines from the Chandra X-ray Observatory with optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey. It uses date from two narrow ranges of X-ray energies to isolate material (silicon, colored red) moving away from Earth, and moving towards us (also silicon, colored blue). The other colors in the image (yellow, green, blue-green, orange and purple) show a broad range of different energies and elements, and a mixture of directions of motion.

Image Credit: X-ray—NASA / CXC / RIKEN & GSFC / T. Sato et al; Optical: DSS

Cassiopeia A

The expanding debris cloud known as Cassiopeia A is an example of the final phase of the stellar life cycle. This false-color image was out together using X-ray and optical image data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope. IT shows the still hot filaments and knots in the remnant which span about 30 light-years. High-energy X-ray emission from specific elements have been color coded red for silicon, yellow for sulphur, green for calcium, and purple fr iron. The outer blast wave is shown in blue. The bright speck near the center is a neutron star, the incredibly dense, massive collapsed remains of the star’s core.

Image Credits: NASA /STScI