Ancient Supernova Revealed

Wise_wise2011-032_500

WISE_WISE2011-032 December 9th, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

About 3,700 years ago, people on Earth would have seen a brand-new bright star in the sky. As it slowly dimmed out of sight, it was eventually forgotten, until modern astronomers found its remains -- called Puppis A . Seen as a red dusty cloud in this image from NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, Puppis A is the remnant of a supernova explosion.

Puppis A (pronounced PUP-pis) was formed when a massive star ended its life in an extremely bright and powerful explosion. The expanding shock waves from that explosion are heating up the dust and gas clouds surrounding the supernova, causing them to glow and creating the beautiful red cloud we see here. Much of the material from that original star was violently thrown out into space. However, some of the material remained in an incredibly dense object called a neutron star. This particular neutron star (too faint to be seen in this image) is moving inexplicably fast: over 3 million miles per hour! Astronomers are perplexed over its absurd speed, and have nicknamed the object, the Cosmic Cannonball."

Some of the green-colored gas and dust in the image is from yet another ancient supernova -- the Vela supernova remnant. That explosion happened around 12,000 years ago and was four times closer to us than Puppis A. If you had X-ray vision like the comic book hero Superman, both of these remnants would be among the largest and brightest objects you would see in the sky.

This image was made from observations by all four infrared detectors aboard WISE. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent infrared light at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is primarily from stars, the hottest objects pictured. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, which is primarily from warm dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-032

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

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Puppis A
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Type » Supernova Remnant

Distance

Universescale1
7,000 light years
Wise_wise2011-032_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 8h 22m 16.2s
DEC = -42° 45’ 10.6”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
1.8 x 2.3 degrees
Constellation
Puppis

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_wise2011-032_1280
×
ID
WISE2011-032
Subject Category
B.4.1.4  
Subject Name
Puppis A
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
7,000
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-032
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
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
2000
Reference Value
125.5675390, -42.752932879
Reference Dimension
4750, 5900
Reference Pixel
2375, 2950
Scale
-3.81944000000000e-04, 3.81944000000000e-04
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explo
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/WISE2011-032
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2012-10-10 19:00:57 -0700
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
7,000 light years