Supernova Explodes! New data from our Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided stringent constraints on the environment around one of the closest supernovas discovered in decades. The Chandra results provide insight into possible cause of the explosion.
On Jan. 21, 2014, astronomers witnessed a supernova soon after it exploded in the Messier 82, or M82, galaxy. Telescopes across the globe and in space turned their attention to study this newly exploded star, including Chandra. Astronomers determined that this supernova, dubbed SN 2014J, belongs to a class of explosions called «Type Ia» supernovas. These supernovas are used as cosmic distance-markers and played a key role in the discovery of the Universe’s accelerated expansion, which has been attributed to the effects of dark energy. Scientists think that all Type Ia supernovas involve the detonation of a white dwarf. One important question is whether the fuse on the explosion is lit when the white dwarf pulls too much material from a companion star like the sun, or when two white dwarf stars merge.
This image contains Chandra data, where low, medium, and high-energy X-rays are red, green, and blue respectively.
Image Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/R.Margutti et al
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