Chandra’s new image of Cassiopeia A brings together the distribution of different elements corresponding to their assigned colours. Image credit: NASA/CXC/SAO
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has observed the famous supernova remnant, Cassiopeia A, in outstanding new clarity. This new crisp image has mapped the distribution of fundamental elements that are essential for life, including iron, sulphur, calcium and silicon. It’s understood that these elements are created inside stars, but it’s these dying explosions that cast these building blocks for life out into the cosmos.
Cassiopeia A, the supernova remnant located 11,000 light-years away from Earth, is at a unique evolutionary status that has led it to be one of the most intensely studied objects in the night sky. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory sensitive equipment has been able to observe the ejected material that is unobservable by most telescopes. The different wavelengths in which Chandra observed Cas A has revealed the locations of silicon, sulphur, calcium, iron and the resulting blast wave as it expands throughout the universe.
Understanding supernova explosions will help us determine how vast amounts of primitive elements are created and distributed. The image created by Chandra has revealed that Cas A contains 10,000 Earth masses worth of ...