Supernovas can mean the end of the star they encounter, but they are not just destructive phenomena. When a star nears the end of its life and runs out of fuel, it explodes in a huge outpouring of energy, leaving behind a small, dense core that becomes a black hole or neutron star. This explosion, while destructive on an epic scale, can also leave behind a beautiful remnant created by the blast’s shock wave.
An image recently released by the Hubble Space Telescope team shows one such supernova remnant, called DEM L249. Captured by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument and placed in the constellation Mensa, this delicate structure is made up of dust and gas expelled from the star’s location by the force of the blast.
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the battered remnant of a supernova – a giant explosion that marks the end of a dying star’s life. ESA/Hubble & NASA, Y. Chu
“This object – known as DEM L249 – would have been created by a Type 1a supernova during the death throes of a white dwarf,” the Hubble scientists write. While white dwarfs are usually stable, they can build up matter slowly if they are part of a binary star system. This accretion of matter continues until the white dwarf reaches a critical mass and undergoes a catastrophic supernova explosion, releasing a huge amount of material into space. is emitted.”
This remnant is located about 160,000 light-years from Earth in a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Researchers use Hubble to look at the LMC to learn more about the evolution of stars, as it is relatively close by and not obscured by too much dust.
“The LMC is an ideal natural laboratory for astronomers to study the birth, life and death of stars, as this region is close, centered on Earth and contains relatively little light-absorbing interstellar dust,” the Hubble team said. “The data in this image was collected by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument and was obtained during a systematic search by the LMC for the surviving companions of supernova white dwarf stars.”