NASA Captures Cosmic Remains of Dead White Dwarf Supernova

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NASA shared this image of the remnants of a supernova, a huge explosion that occurs at the end of a star’s life cycle, on Instagram.

And it’s just remarkable. The event was caused by the demise (explosion) of a white dwarf star, according to NASA.

In most cases, a white dwarf is stable. In a binary system, however, when two stars orbit each other, a white dwarf draws matter from its companion and subsequently explodes. This star had a similar experience.

“Astronomers suspect this white dwarf star was more massive than expected,” NASA wrote in the post, “which also means it would have died early in its lifespan.”

This white dwarf, designated DEM L249, was discovered in the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 200,000 light-years from Earth. “Searching for surviving companions of white dwarf stars that went supernova in the Magellanic Cloud,” the Hubble Space Telescope discovered it.

The colossal star explosion has left behind cosmic streamers of gas, seen in red in the image. “A true chart-topper, this supernova remnant was found to have hotter gas and shine brighter in X-rays than the remnant of a typical Type 1a supernova,” NASA wrote on Instagram.

Separately, NASA demonstrated how a white dwarf star takes material from a close stellar companion using animation. When a star reaches critical mass, it can no longer sustain its own mass, thus it explodes and dies, resulting in a Type 1a supernova.

NASA and the European Space Agency collaborated on the Hubble telescope, which was launched in 1990. Because the telescope has an uninterrupted view of deep space, it has become one of the most relied on equipment for space observation by scientists.

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