Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 9, 1999

X-ray Hot Supernova Remnant in the SMC
Credit: NASA/ CXC/ SAO

Explanation: The Q-shaped cloud seen in this false-color X-ray image from the orbiting Chandra Observatory is big ... about 40 light-years across. It's hot too, as its X-ray glow is produced by multi-million degree gas. Cataloged as E0102-72, this cosmic Q is likely a several thousand year old supernova remnant, the result of the death explosion of a massive star. A supernova can dramatically affect its galactic environment, triggering star formation and enriching the local interstellar medium with newly synthesized elements. This supernova remnant is located about 210,000 light-years away in our neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), so the detailed Chandra X-ray image is impressive - particularly as it reveals what appear to be strange spoke-like structures radiating from the remnant's center.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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& Michigan Tech. U.