Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chandra X-Ray Observatory Image: Tycho supernova remnant

Looking like a bunch of flowers, this image comes from a very deep Chandra observation of the Tycho supernova remnant in the Milky Way.

It is produced by the supernova explosion of a white dwarf star in our home galaxy.

Low-energy X-rays (red) show expanding debris from the supernova explosion and high energy X-rays (blue) show the blast wave, a shell of extremely energetic electrons.

These high-energy X-rays show a pattern of X-ray "stripes" never seen in a supernova remnant.

Some of the brightest stripes can be seen on the right side of the remnant pointing from the outer rim to the interior.

These stripes may provide the first evidence that supernova remnants can accelerate particles to energies a hundred times higher than achieved by the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth, the Large Hadron Collider.

The results could explain how some of the extremely energetic particles bombarding the Earth, called cosmic rays, are produced. Tycho is named after a Danish astronomer who first observed it in 1572.

Picture: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/K.Eriksen / Rex Features

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