NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have captured the blast wave and debris from an exploded star moving away from the explosion site before colliding with a wall of surrounding gas. This supernova explosion reached Earth around 1,700 years ago, but this remnant formed by the explosion, called MSH 15-52, is one of the youngest in the Milky Way galaxy relatively speaking. This event also created an ultra-dense, magnetized star called a pulsar, which then blew a bubble of energetic particles, an X-ray-emitting nebula. Read more for a video and additional information.
The supernova remnant, made of debris from the shattered star as well as the explosion’s blast wave, and the X-ray nebula have been changing as they expand outward into space since the explosion. As you can see, it now resembles the shape of fingers and a palm. Its motion was tracked by the team using Chandra data from 2004, 2008, and then a combined image from observations taken in late 2017 into early 2018.
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The exploded star likely lost part or all of its outer layer of hydrogen gas in a wind, forming such a cavity, before exploding, as did the star that exploded to form the well-known supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A), which is much younger at an age of about 350 years. About 30% of massive stars that collapse to form supernovas are of this type. The clumps of debris seen in the 1,700-year-old supernova remnant could be older versions of those seen in Cas A at optical wavelengths in terms of their initial speeds and densities,” said the observatory.