Webb Reveals New Details in Cassiopeia A

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Webb Reveals New Details in Cassiopeia A

Post by bystander » Wed Apr 12, 2023 7:22 pm

Webb Reveals New Details in Cassiopeia A
ESA Webb | ESA Space Science | NASA | GSFC | STScI | JWST | 2023 Apr 07
Click to view full size image 1 or image 2
Webb (MIRI) and Hubble Views of Cassiopeia A
Webb Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, D. Milisavljevic (Purdue University), T. Temim
(Princeton University), I. De Looze (UGent), J. DePasquale (STScI)
Hubble Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA), ESA/Hubble Collaboration.
Acknowledgement: R. A. Fesen (Dartmouth College, USA) and J. Long (ESA/Hubble)

The explosion of a star is a dramatic event, but the remains that the star leaves behind can be even more dramatic. A new mid-infrared image from NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope provides one stunning example. It shows the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A), created by a stellar explosion 340 years ago. The image displays vivid colours and intricate structures begging to be examined more closely. Cas A is the youngest known remnant of an exploding, massive star in our galaxy, offering astronomers an opportunity to perform stellar forensics to understand the star’s death.

Cassiopeia A is a prototypical supernova remnant that has been widely studied by a number of ground-based and space-based observatories. The multi-wavelength observations can be combined to provide scientists with a more comprehensive understanding of the remnant.

The striking colours of the new Cas A image, in which infrared light is translated into visible-light wavelengths, hold a wealth of scientific information that researchers are just beginning to tease out. On the bubble’s exterior, particularly at the top and left, lie curtains of material appearing orange and red that are due to emission from warm dust. This marks where ejected material from the exploded star is ramming into surrounding circumstellar gas and dust.

Interior to this outer shell lie mottled filaments of bright pink studded with clumps and knots. This represents material from the star itself, which is shining by the light produced by a mix of heavy elements, such as oxygen, argon, and neon, as well as dust emission. The stellar material can also be seen as fainter wisps near the cavity’s interior. ...
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