NASA Releases Image of Stars’ Remains

Supernova remnant known as 30 Doradus B | Image by NASA

NASA released a new image Wednesday of the supernova remnant known as 30 Doradus B located 160,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

The image was made by “combining X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple), optical data from the Blanco 4-meter telescope in Chile (orange and cyan), and infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (red). Optical data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was also added in black and white to highlight sharp features in the image,” according to a press release.

A team led by Wei-An Chen from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, analyzed over two million seconds of data of the remnant from the Chandra telescope. The scientists discovered a “faint shell of X-rays that extends about 130 light-years across.”

As a result of their observations, researchers now believe that a single supernova explosion could not be responsible for the remnant and theorize that at least two supernova explosions took place in 30 Doradus B.

“Both the pulsar and the bright X-rays seen in the center of 30 Dor B likely resulted from a supernova explosion after the collapse of a massive star about 5,000 years ago. The larger, faint shell of X-rays, however, is too big to have resulted from the same supernova,” reads the press release.

Scientists explained what is being seen in the image that was released:

“The entire image is awash in intricate clouds, and swathes of superheated gas. At our upper lefthand corner is a thick, coral pink, and wine-colored cloud with a texture resembling cotton candy. At our lower and upper right is a network of deep red clouds that resemble streaks of thick red syrup floating in water.

“A layer of wispy blue cloud appears to be present across the entire image but is most evident at our lower left which is free of overlapping gas. Glowing pink, orange, and purple specks of light, which are stars, dot the image.

“In the center of the frame is a bright purple and pink cloud, aglow with brilliant white dots, and streaked with lightning-like veins. This is 30 Doradus B, which is delineated by a faint shell of X-rays identified by Chandra. Within this supernova remnant are high energy shocks and winds of particles blowing away from a pulsar.”

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