Neutron stars

The Crab Nebula was a supernova which left behind a neutron star. You can see here that the postcard image was made from five separate images overlaid onto each other. Just beautiful!

Image credit: NASA, ESA, G. Dubner (IAFE, CONICET-University of Buenos Aires) et al.; A. Loll et al.; T. Temim et al.; F. Seward et al.; VLA/NRAO/AUI/NSF; Chandra/CXC; Spitzer/JPL-Caltech; XMM-Newton/ESA; and Hubble/STScI

Here’s the story of why a star goes supernova and what it leaves behind:

This picture shows the remains of Supernova G54. This nebula also has a neutron star at the centre.

This is shown by the bright yellow spot in the middle. Yellow is showing where we can detect X-rays, and neutron stars emit X-rays quite strongly.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/ESA/NRAO/J. Rho (SETI Institute)

A massive star is illuminating this small region, called M43, and sculpting the landscape of dust and gas. Astronomers call the area a miniature Orion Nebula because of its small size and the single star that is shaping it. The Orion Nebula itself is much larger and has four hefty stars that are carving the dust-and-gas terrain.

Incredibly, the violent death of a star as a supernova allows new stars to form.

Those supernova remains – clouds dust and gas – will eventually be pulled together in clumps by gravity. When enough stuff forms a big enough lump, it will be hot enough to start nuclear fusion reactions. They produce so much energy that light is given off and the star is born. Like the bright star shown here in a region of the Orion Nebula.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto ( Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

Activity

Amazing observations. A really important part of science is making observations, and writing down what you see. Watch the video below – called the Birth of ‘Phoenix’ Planets – and write down what you see happening. Watch it as many times as you like and try to write your observations with as much detail as you can. The video has no sound. Video credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Once you have completed your observations report, you can check out the NASA webpage that explains what the animator was trying to show. How closely does your description match with theirs? Click here to read it.


You can go to the previous DeepSpace secret pages by clicking the places below.

Distant UniverseBlack HoleDark Matter
GalaxiesSupernovas
These delicate wisps of gas make up an object known as SNR B0519-69.0, or SNR 0519 for short. The thin, blood-red shells are actually the remnants from when an unstable progenitor star exploded violently as a supernova around 600 years ago. There are several types of supernova, but for SNR 0519 the star that exploded is known to have been a white dwarf star — a Sun-like star in the final stages of its life. SNR 0519 is located over 150 000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Dorado (The Dolphinfish), a constellation that also contains most of our neighbouring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Because of this, this region of the sky is full of intriguing and beautiful deep sky objects. The LMC orbits the Milky Way galaxy as a satellite and is the fourth largest in our group of galaxies, the Local Group. SNR 0519 is not alone in the LMC; the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope also came across a similar bauble a few years ago in SNR B0509-67.5, a supernova of the same type as SNR 0519 with a strikingly similar appearance. A version of this image was submitted to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Image Processing Competition by Claude Cornen, and won sixth prize.