NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope managed to capture a convivial image of a ring of gas that looks like it is ready to celebrate, deep in space. The object was, in fact, the effect of a star dying in a supernova.
The picture seems to show a red Christmas trifle enclosed by bright lights and falling snowflakes. However, the red curio is a ring of stellar gas flying through space, and the blazing lights similar to snowflakes are stars located at a great distance. NASA shared the image captured by the telescope nine years ago, in a festive-based Tweet.
The space agency said: “#HubbleClassic Resembling a crimson holiday ornament, this sphere is the result of gas being shocked by the blast wave from a supernova explosion. Named SNR0509, this bubble floats 160,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).”
A Christmas Ornament in Space
The red circle of gas took shape in the ultimate death breaths of a star transforming into a supernova. Supernovae are some of the most massive explosions in the Universe, caused by a giant star on its deathbed.
In this case, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope imaged the spotless shell of gas triggered by a supernovae’s shockwave. When the explosion occurred approximately 400 years ago, NASA believes it could have been sufficiently luminous for astronomers to see it from Earth.
The red ring is believed to measure about 23 light-years, and it is growing at a rate of approximately 11 million per hour.
“Astronomers have concluded that the explosion was one of an, especially energetic and bright variety supernovae. Known as Type Ia, such supernova events are thought to result from a white dwarf star in a binary system that robs its pattern of material, takes on much more mass than it is able to handle, and eventually explodes,” NASA said.
The telescope captured the red ring of gas on October 28th, 2006, but the image NASA released was only created on November 4th, 2010. The picture merges observations of sparkling hydrogen in the bubble and visible-light captures, as well as the impressive starfield.
There are no Records Describing a ‘New Star’
According to NASA, the supernovae might have been easy to spot to Southern Hemisphere astronomers around the year 1600. Even so, there is no history to indicate a ‘new star’ in the direction of the Large Magellanic Cloud, or LMC, in that period.
“A more recent supernova in the LMC, SN 1987A, did catch eye of Earth viewers and continues to be studied with ground and space-based telescopes, including Hubble,” the space agency said.
The Large Magellanic Cloud, also known as LMC is a satellite galaxy hosted in the Milky Way. It is located approximately 160,000 light-years from our planet. The LMC was observed to feature a rather massive cloud of gas that makes it possible for new stars to birth to life in the same location.
After some observations and research, astronomers now predict that the galaxy will most likely crash with the Milky Way in about 2.5 billion years from now.