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Sunday 1 October 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# amateur astronomer
5 incredible supernovas captured in space (and how you could spot one too)
Colour and light.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Celebrates 15th Anniversary NASA  Tycho NASA 

THIS YEAR MARKS the ‘International Year of Light’, according to the United Nations. To mark this, NASA is celebrating the work of its Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Chandra “explores the universe in x-rays, a high-energy form of light”, explains NASA. This work can help scientists understand stars, galaxies, and other objects better. For the average Joe, that also means some rather spectacular and colourful photographs.

To celebrate the Year of Light, Chandra has released some incredible images of our universe.

Interestingly, you don’t have to be a high-falutin’ scientist to discover a supernova. As NASA explains:

You do not have to be a scientist, or even have a telescope, to hunt for supernovas. For example, in 2008 a teenager discovered a supernova. Then in January 2011, a 10-year-old girl from Canada discovered a supernova while looking at night sky images on her computer. The images, taken by an amateur astronomer, just happened to include a supernova. With some practice and the right equipment, you could find the next supernova!

Here’s more info and some tips on how to find a supernova.

Crab Nebula 

Crab nebula Crab Nebula Crab Nebula

This nebula was first spotted in 1054 AD by Chinese astronomers, but it wasn’t a ‘new star’, as they thought – it was a supernova explosion. According to NASA:

At the centre of the Crab Nebula is an extremely dense, rapidly rotating neutron star left behind by the explosion. The neutron star, also known as a pulsar, is spewing out a blizzard of high-energy particles

Horsehead Nebula

horse head NASA Horsehead nebula. Pic: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT), Hawaiian Starlight, CFHT NASA

You can see immediately how this stunning supernova got its name. This nebula is found within the Orion Nebula, and, says NASA “The dark molecular cloud, roughly 1,500 light years distant, is visible only because its obscuring dust is silhouetted against another, brighter nebula.”

Cassiopeia A

supernova nasa NASA NASA

The light from this supernova first reached Earth in around 1667AD, but NASA says no records remain from that time to say if astronomers spotted it. In 1947, the remnants of the supernova were discovered thanks to its “powerful radio emission”.

Supernova Remnant 3C58

chandra NASA NASA

This is the remnant of a supernova that was first recorded in 1181AD, by Chinese and Japanese astronomers, says NASA. At the centre of this remnant is a rapidly spinning neutron star.

Supernova Remnant G292.0+1.8

Supernova Remnant G292.0+1.8 NASA NASA

This is one of three supernova remnants in the Milky Way that contains large amounts of oxygen. Why are these of interest? Explains NASA: “ because they are one of the primary sources of the heavy elements (that is, everything other than hydrogen and helium) necessary to form planets and people.” Those bright colours show a debris field with elements like magnesium and silicon.

Read: These pictures of the ‘Pillars of Creation’ are INCREDIBLE>

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