The glowing shell that remains after a binary star supernova

Image for article titled The glowing shell that remains after a binary star supernova

This delicate red bubble of gas floats in a small galaxy about 160,000 light years from Earth. Its the result of an extraordinary supernova, caused by a binary star system where one star consumes the other - then explodes.


According to NASA:

The pristine shell, or bubble, is the result of gas that is being shocked by the expanding blast wave from a supernova. Called SNR 0509-67.5 (or SNR 0509 for short), the bubble is the visible remnant of a powerful stellar explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small galaxy about 160,000 light-years from Earth.

Ripples in the shell's surface may be caused by either subtle variations in the density of the ambient interstellar gas, or possibly driven from the interior by pieces of the ejecta. The bubble-shaped shroud of gas is 23 light-years across and is expanding at more than 11 million miles per hour (5,000 kilometers per second).

Astronomers have concluded that the explosion was one of an especially energetic and bright variety of supernovae. Known as Type Ia, such supernova events are thought to result from a white dwarf star in a binary system that robs its partner of material, takes on much more mass than it is able to handle, and eventually explodes.

This image was taken by NASA's Hubble telescope.

See more via the NASA Goddard photo stream on Flickr



A glowing shell, huh? Can you make sunglasses out of it?