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Click to see selection as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) - January 12, 2012.
Hubble Solves Mystery on Source of Supernova in Nearby Galaxy.
Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have
solved a longstanding mystery on the type of star, or so-called progenitor, that
caused a supernova in a nearby galaxy. The finding yields new observational data
for pinpointing one of several scenarios that could trigger such outbursts.
Based on previous observations from ground-based telescopes, astronomers knew
that a kind of supernova called a Type Ia created a remnant named SNR 0509-67.5,
which lies 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. The type
of system that leads to this kind of supernova explosion has long been a high
importance problem with various proposed solutions but no decisive answer.
All these solutions involve a white dwarf star that somehow increases in mass to the
highest limit. Astronomers failed to find any companion star near the center of the
remnant, and this rules out all but one solution, so the only remaining possibility is
that this one Type Ia supernova came from a pair of white dwarfs in close orbit.
Release date: January 11, 2012
Science Credit: NASA, ESA, and B. Schaefer and A. Pagnotta (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge)
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, SAO, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and J. Hughes (Rutgers University)