Radioactive Core of a Dead Star

Nustar_nustar140219e_500

nustar_nustar140219e February 19th, 2014

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/SAO

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscope Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has, for the first time, imaged the radioactive "guts" of a supernova remnant, the leftover remains of a star that exploded. The NuSTAR data are blue, and show high-energy X-rays. Yellow shows non-radioactive material detected previously by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in low-energy X-rays.

Studying radioactive elements offers astronomers a more direct method for probing supernova blasts than observing non-radioactive elements. This is because this radioactive material glows with X-rays no matter what, while the X-rays detected by Chandra and other telescopes are generated only after heating with shock waves from the explosion. Because the non-radioactive material only lights up after the explosion, it does not offer a direct look at the blast itself.

The NuSTAR results show that titanium is concentrated in clumps at the heart of the star, pointing to a model of supernova explosions that calls for sloshing of the inner core. This sloshing, also known as mild asymmetries, is thought to help trigger stars to ultimately detonate and fling out their outer layers.

Image Source: /image/nustar/nustar140219e

Curator: NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, Pasadena, CA

Image Use Policy: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/

Image Details

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

Distance

Universescale1
11,000 light years
Nustar_nustar140219e_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 23h 23m 25.9s
DEC = 58° 48’ 58.8”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
8.3 x 8.3 arcminutes
Constellation
Cassiopeia

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue NuSTAR X-ray (44Ti) 17.0 pm
Arrow_left_yellow Chandra X-ray (Continuum) 248.0 pm
Green channel is a ratio of silicon and magnesium lines
Spectrum_xray1w
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_yellow
Nustar_nustar140219e_1280
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ID
nustar140219e
Subject Category
B.4.1.4  
Subject Name
Cassiopeia A, Cas A
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/SAO
Lightyears
11,000
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/nustar/nustar140219e
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
NuSTAR, Chandra
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Yellow
Band
X-ray, X-ray
Bandpass
44Ti, Continuum
Central Wavelength
0.016984, 0.24797
Start Time
2004-04-28T05:44
Integration Time
3.0000000000000E+00
Dataset ID
Notes
G
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
350.85792622609534, 58.816320863129
Reference Dimension
3000, 3000
Reference Pixel
1500, 1500
Scale
-4.6182337591048391E-05, 4.6182337591048391E-05
Rotation
0.0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array
URL
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
Country
Rights
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/
Publisher
Publisher ID
nustar
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/nustar/nustar140219e
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2014-07-16 17:33:53 -0700
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
11,000 light years