An Explosion of Infrared Color

Wise_wise2010-044_500

WISE_WISE2010-044 December 9th, 2010

Credit:

This oddly colorful nebula is the supernova remnant IC 443 as seen by NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. Also known as the Jellyfish nebula, IC 443 is particularly interesting because it provides a look into how stellar explosions interact with their environment. IC 443 can be found near the star Eta Geminorum, which lies near Castor, one of the twins in the constellation Gemini.

Just like human beings, stars have a life cycle -- they are born, mature and eventually die. The manner in which stars die depends on their mass. Stars with mass similar to the Sun typically become planetary nebulae at the end of their lives, whereas stars with many times the Suns mass explode as supernovae. IC 443 is the remains of a star that went supernova somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. The blast from the supernova sent out shock waves that traveled through space, sweeping up and heating the surrounding gas and dust in the interstellar medium, and creating the supernova remnant seen in this image.

What is unusual about the IC 443 is that its shell-like form has two halves that have different radii, structures and emissions. The larger northeastern shell, seen here as the violet-colored semi-circle on the top left of the supernova remnant, is composed of sheet-like filaments that are emitting light from iron, neon, silicon and oxygen gas atoms and dust particles heated by the blast from the supernova. The smaller southern shell, seen here in a bright cyan color on the bottom half of the image, is constructed of denser clumps and knots primarily emitting light from hydrogen gas and heated dust. These clumps are part of a molecular cloud which can be seen in this image as the greenish cloud cutting across IC 443 from the northwest to southeast. The color differences seen in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared emission.

The differences in color are also the result of differences in the energies of the shock waves hitting the interstellar medium. The northeastern shell was probably created by a fast shock wave (100 kilometers per second or 223,700 miles per hour), whereas the southern shell was probably created by a slow shock wave (30 kilometers per second or 67,100 miles per hour).

All WISE featured images use color to represent specific infrared wavelengths. Blue represents 3.4-micron light, cyan represents 4.6-micron light, green represents 12-micron light and red represents 22-micron light. In this image, we see a mixing of blue and cyan in the southern ridge that is not often seen in other WISE images. The northeastern shell appears violet, indicating a mixture of longer infrared wavelengths from cooler dust (red) and shorter infrared wavelengths from luminescent gas (blue).

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2010-044

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Jellyfish Nebula IC 443 Eta Geminorum Propus
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Type » Supernova Remnant
Star » Type » Variable » Pulsating

Distance

Universescale1
4,890 light years
Wise_wise2010-044_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 6h 17m 55.2s
DEC = 22° 43’ 0.0”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
1.6 x 1.6 degrees
Constellation
Gemini

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2010-044_1280
×
ID
WISE2010-044
Subject Category
B.4.1.4.   B.3.2.1.1.  
Subject Name
Jellyfish Nebula, IC 443, Eta Geminorum, Propus
Credits
Lightyears
4,890
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2010-044
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Distance for IC 443 from: 2001ApJ...547..885R - Astrophys. J., 547, 885-898 (2001) - 27.02.01 28.03.01 February(I) 2001 Near-infrared imaging and [O I] spectroscopy of IC 443 using Two Micron All Sky Survey and Infrared Space Observatory. RHO J.; JARRETT T.H.; CUTRI R.M.; REACH W.T.
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
94.480122, 22.716667
Reference Dimension
4095, 4095
Reference Pixel
2048, 2048
Scale
-3.81944439141100e-04, 3.81944439141100e-04
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
SIN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2010-044
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2013-10-14 16:15:19 -0700
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
4,890 light years