FromQuarkstoQuasars

Astronomy Photo of the Day: 6/4/15 — An Ancient Red Rose (Puppis A)

Jaime TrosperJune 4th 2015
Puppis A
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

This beautiful red rose is all that remains of a star that exploded far away from Earth. Called Puppis A, this ancient supernova remnant remains just as impressive today as ever. Despite the thousands of years that have elapsed, it still has an irregularly-shaped shockwave that extends around 10 light-years in all—a feature that was generated following the explosion, which saw the star violently eject its stellar envelope.

Ultimately, besides the remnant itself, one piece of this former star’s existence remains—a small, but incredibly dense object, called a neutron star. While it can not be seen here, astronomers have tracked its movements, which revealed that the star is travelling at speeds exceeding 3 million miles (roughly 5 million km) an hour (perhaps this is why it is sometimes called the “Cosmic Cannonball).

In recent years, Puppis A—which can be found approximately 7,000 light-years from Earth in the Puppis constellation—has been imaged and studied thoroughly, yet this image is still one of the most striking. Taken with NASA’s Wide Field Imaging Survey (or WISE), it shows the region at wavelengths not perceptible to the human eye—specifically its infrared signature. (See a larger image here)

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