Image Credit: NASA/CXC/GSFC/T.Temim et al.

Supernovae are called "Earth-shattering kabooms" for a reason; they are among the most violent forces of nature, yet there's something intrinsically beautiful about them. In images taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, we see two separate regions with the likeness of a lobster, both forged in the aftermath of a cataclysmic (totally "Earth-shattering") event.

NASA explains how these events are triggered:

... bringing us to these cosmic landmarks. The first object (pictured on the right), called MSH 11-62, is a mysterious supernova remnant with strange qualities. Strange in the fact that this irregularly-shaped shell of superheated gas appears to have a pulsar — a neutron star known to spit out lots of light and radiation — tucked away in its core, yet astronomers have yet to actually detect any of the telltale pulsations generally associated with pulsar activity. It does, however, have several different qualities that align with pulsar wind nebulae. Specifically, as the Chandra team notes, "The reverse shock and other, secondary shocks within MSH 11-62 appear to have begun to crush the pulsar wind nebula, possibly contributing to its elongated shape."

Secondly, on the right, we have G327.1-1.1: a luminous nebula similar to MSH 11-62 in a number of ways. Here, Chandra outlines the path in which the progenitor star paved after it went supernova. Notably, its shockwave (pictured in red) appears to be moving outward, whilst the nebula forged by pulsar winds (seen in blue) has been distorted. This is believed to be the result of  the "combined action of the reverse shock wave, which may have flattened it, and by the motion of the pulsar, which created a comet, or lobster-like tail."

"An asymmetric supernova explosion may have given a recoil kick to the pulsar, causing it to move rapidly and drag the pulsar wind nebula along with it."

MSH 11-62 is located about 16,000 light-years from Earth, while G327.1-1.1 lurks almost 30,000 light-years from us (both are situated in the Norma constellation). Also pictured here are various foreground stars associated with Trumpler 18, an open cluster of stars about 5,000 light-years distant.

See a larger image here.


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