Pioneering Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe was in 1572 one of many who noticed an unexpected bright speck in the Cassiopeia constellation. Adding to the scientific shift started by Copernicus and the Renaissance, Tycho proved this “new star” was far beyond the Moon. This added weight to the idea it was possible for the Universe to exist beyond the Solar System and planets to evolve.
Modern astronomers now understand Tycho’s new star was not, in fact, new at all.
Instead, it signalled the death of a star in a supernova.
Supernovas are explosions so bright they can outshine the light emitted by an entire galaxy.
Supernova Tycho is a Type Ia, occurring when a white dwarf star draws material from, or merges with, a nearby companion star until a violent explosion is triggered.
“Did the explosion itself cause this clumpiness, or was it something that happened afterward?
“This latest image of Tycho from Chandra is providing clues.”
In an attempt to understand the clumps in the Chandra photo and the three-dimensional nature of Tycho, NASA scientists selected two narrow ranges of X-ray energies to isolate material.
The red-coloured silicon is material moving away from Earth, while the blue colours is silicon moving towards us the planet.
The other yellow, green, orange and purple colours show a broad range of different energies and elements, and a mixture of directions of motion.
The statement added: “In this new composite image, Chandra’s X-ray data have been combined with an optical image of the stars in the same field of view from the Digitized Sky Survey.”
The Tycho image follows last week’s release of a new NASA video shedding new light on how supernova explosions evolve over a 13-year period.
The growing debris field, called Cassiopeia A, is considered to have been created following a star explosion in 1680.