The Mystery of Supernova Explosions

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/SAO

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/SAO

One of the biggest mysteries in astronomy, how stars blow up in supernova explosions, is unraveling thanks to new data from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. In this image of Cassiopeia A, NuSTAR data, which show high-energy X-rays from radioactive material, are colored blue. Lower-energy X-rays from non-radioactive material are shown in red, yellow and green. Cassiopeia A is the remains of a star that blew up in a supernova event whose light reached Earth about 350 years ago, when it could have appeared to observers as a star that suddenly brightened. The remnant is located 11,000 light-years away from Earth.

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