The 9th Soul

Study illuminates star explosion from 16th century

Posted in science by Fated Blue on December 4, 2008

 

This composite image provided by NASA Wednesday Dec. 3, 2008 of the Tycho supernova remnant combines infrared and X-ray observations obtained with NASAs Spitzer and Chandra space observatories, respectively, and the Calar Alto observatory, in Spain. The image shows the remnant of a supernova that was observed in 1572 by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The explosion has left a blazing hot cloud of expanding debris (green and yellow). The location of the blasts outer shock wave can be seen as a blue sphere of ultra-energetic electrons. Newly synthesized dust in the ejected material and heated pre-existing dust from the area around the supernova radiate at infrared wavelengths of 24 microns (red). Foreground and background stars in the image are white.

This composite image provided by NASA Wednesday Dec. 3, 2008 of the Tycho supernova remnant combines infrared and X-ray observations obtained with NASA's Spitzer and Chandra space observatories, respectively, and the Calar Alto observatory, in Spain. The image shows the remnant of a supernova that was observed in 1572 by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The explosion has left a blazing hot cloud of expanding debris (green and yellow). The location of the blast's outer shock wave can be seen as a blue sphere of ultra-energetic electrons. Newly synthesized dust in the ejected material and heated pre-existing dust from the area around the supernova radiate at infrared wavelengths of 24 microns (red). Foreground and background stars in the image are white.

YAHOO 

More than 400 years after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe challenged established wisdom about the heavens by analyzing a strange new light in the sky, scientists say they’ve finally nailed down just what he saw.

It’s no big surprise. Scientists have known the light came from asupernova, a huge star explosion. But what kind of supernova?

A new study confirms that, as expected, it was the common kind that involves the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf star with a nearby companion.

The research, which analyzed a “light echo” from the long-ago event, is presented in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature by scientists in Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

The story of what’s commonly called Tycho’s supernova began on Nov. 11, 1572, when Brahe was astonished to see what he thought was a brilliant new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. The light eventually became as bright as Venus and could be seen for two weeks in broad daylight. After 16 months, it disappeared.

 

 

 

Working before telescopes were invented, Brahe documented with precision that unlike the moon and the planets, the light’s position didn’t move in relation to the stars. That meant it lay far beyond the moon. That was a shock to the contemporary view that the distant heavens were perfect and unchanging.

The event inspired Brahe to commit himself further to studying the stars, launching a career of meticulous observations that helped lay the foundations of early modern astronomy, said Michael Shank, a professor of the history of science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The direct light from the supernova swept past Earth long ago. But some of it struck dust clouds in deep space, causing them to brighten. That “light echo” was still observable, and the new study was based on analyzing the wavelengths of light from that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: