MessageToEagle.com - It is one of the brightest and strangest objects in the Milky Way - the corpse of
a star that exploded around 1000 years ago. Only a handful of such young supernova remnants are known.
The object named G350.1-0.3 is also incredibly small (only eight light years across) and young in astronomical terms.
Its shape, age and chemical composition will allow astronomers to better understand the violent ways in which stars end their lives.
A few years ago, this unique object was observed by astronomers at the University of Sydney, who used the X-ray capabilities
When astronomers took the first high-resolution radio images of a celestial object known as ‘G350.1-0.3’ in the 1980s, they saw an
irregular knot of gases that did not seem to meet these expectations.
So it was classified as a probable background galaxy and was quietly forgotten.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has also studied many of these supernova remnants sprinkled across the Galaxy.
The latest example of this important investigation is Chandra's new image of the supernova remnant known as G350.1+0.3.
This stellar debris field is located some 14,700 light years from the Earth toward the center of the Milky Way.
Evidence from Chandra and from ESA's XMM-Newton telescope suggest that a compact object within G350.1+0.3 may be the
dense core of the star that exploded. The position of this likely neutron star, seen by the arrow pointing to "neutron
star" in the inset image, is well away from the center of the X-ray emission.
If the supernova explosion occurred near the center of the X-ray emission then the neutron star must have received a
powerful kick in the supernova explosion.
Data from Chandra and other telescopes suggest this supernova remnant, as it appears in the image, is between 600 and 1,200 years old. If the estimated
location of the explosion is correct, this means that the neutron star has been moving at a speed of at least 3 million miles per hour since the explosion.
G350.1+0.3 is a young and exceptionally bright supernova remnant about 15,000 light years from Earth. Its unusual shape
suggests that the debris from the supernova explosion is expanding into a nearby cloud of cold gas. Astronomers think the
star that created G350.1+0.3 exploded between 600 and 1,200 years ago. Credits: NASA/Chandra
This is comparable to the exceptionally high speed derived for the neutron star in Puppis A, another neutron star moving at a blistering
pace within a supernova remnant.
The G350+1+0.3 data provide new evidence that extremely powerful "kicks" may be imparted to neutron stars
left behind once the supernova has exploded.
Another intriguing aspect of G350.1+0.3 is its unusual shape.
To explain its shape, the team looked at radio surveys and discovered that G350.1-0.3 had exploded next to a dense cloud of
gas about 15 000 light-years from Earth.
The cloud prevented the blast from expanding evenly in all directions, resulting in an example of a rare kind of misshapen supernova remnant.
While many supernova remnants are nearly circular, G350.1+0.3 is strikingly asymmetrical as seen in the Chandra data in
this image (gold). Infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (light blue) also trace the morphology found by Chandra.
Astronomers think that this bizarre shape is due to stellar debris field expanding into a nearby cloud of cold molecular gas.
G350.1+0.3 is a young and exceptionally bright supernova remnant in our Galaxy. While many supernova remnants are nearly
circular, G350.1+0.3 is strikingly asymmetrical as seen
in a new composite image of X-rays from Chandra and infrared data from Spitzer.
Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/I. Lovchinsky et al; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The age of 600-1200 years puts the explosion that created G350.1+0.3 in the same time frame as other famous supernovas
that formed the Crab and SN 1006 supernova remnants. However, it is unlikely that anyone on Earth would have seen the
explosion because of the obscuring gas and dust that lies along our line of sight to the remnant.
The scientists on this paper were Igor Lovchinsky and Patrick Slane (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics),
Bryan Gaensler (University of Sydney, Australia), Jack Hughes (Rutgers University), Jasmina Lazendic (Monash University Clayton,
Australia), Joseph Gelfand (New York University, Abu Dhabi), and Crystal Brogan (National Radio Astronomy Observatory).
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