NASA’s James Webb captured image of a supernova

Isbel Lázaro.

James Webb de la NASA

The supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A) glows in a new image captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope . The view of Cas A through Webb’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam) offers unprecedented resolution at these wavelengths.

The discovery of NASA’s James Webb

This high-resolution image reveals intricate details of the expanding shell of material colliding with gas released by the star before its explosion. Cassiopeia A is one of the most exhaustively studied supernova remnants in the universe, and over the years, various observatories, both on Earth and in space, including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and the retired Spitzer Space Telescope, have provided multilongitudinal images of the remnant.

However, astronomers have entered a novel phase in Cas A research. Beginning in April 2023, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) began this new chapter, revealing previously unseen internal features in the supernova remnant. . Many of these features are not visible in the new NIRCam image and astronomers are exploring the reasons behind this discrepancy.

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The recent observation of Cas A by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in near-infrared light has provided astronomers with valuable information about the dynamical processes happening in the supernova remnant. In this view, small clumps, depicted in bright pink and orange tones, make up the inner layer of the supernova, composed of sulfur, oxygen, argon and neon from the star itself.

An extensive striated area in the lower right corner of the image, called Baby Cas A , stands out as one of the few traces of visible light in NIRCam’s field of view.

About Baby Cas A

Scientists were also amazed by a fascinating feature located in the lower right corner of NIRCam’s field of view. This extensive, striated structure has been nicknamed Baby Cas A, because it appears to be a descendant of the parent supernova.

This is a luminous echo phenomenon, where light from the ancient stellar explosion has reached and heated distant dust particles, which emit light as they cool. The intricate arrangement of the dust pattern and the apparent closeness of Baby Cas A to Cas A itself generate deep interest among researchers.

In reality, Baby Cas A is located at a distance of approximately 170 light years behind the supernova remnant. Additionally, in Webb’s new portrait, several other smaller light echoes are also seen scattered throughout the area.

The Cas A supernova remnant is located at a distance of 11,000 light years in the constellation Cassiopeia. The explosion is estimated to have occurred approximately 340 years ago from our perspective.

The James Webb Space Telescope, as the premier global space science observatory, is unlocking enigmas both in our solar system and beyond, exploring distant worlds around other stars, and examining the mysterious structures and origins of our universe, as well as our role in it. . Webb represents an international project led by NASA in collaboration with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

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