Supernovas are the spectacular ends to the lives of many massive stars. These explosions, which occur on average twice a century in the Milky Way, can produce enormous amounts of energy and be as bright as an entire galaxy. These events are also important because the remains of the shattered star are hurled into space. As this debris field - called a supernova remnant - expands, it carries the material it encounters along with it.
The supernova remnant G352.7-0.1 (or, G352 for short) - has swept up material equivalent to about 45 times the mass of the Sun, as it expands. Although this is not an exceptionally large amount, astronomers have found that several other properties of the supernova remnant are unusual. First, they found that this supernova remnant has a very different shape in radio data compared to that in X-rays. Most of the radio emission
A recent study suggests that, surprisingly, the X-ray emission in G352 is dominated by the hotter (about 30 million degrees Celsius) debris from the explosion, rather than cooler (about 2 million degrees) emission from surrounding material that has been swept up by the expanding shock wave. This is curious because astronomers estimate that G352 exploded about 2,200 years ago, and supernova remnants of this age usually produce X-rays that are dominated by swept-up material. Scientists are still trying to come up with an explanation for this behavior.
Astronomers also conducted a search for a neutron star that may have been produced by the supernova explosion. They did not find any hints of a neutron star in G352, another astronomical puzzle involved with this system. One possibility is simply that the neutron star is too faint to be detected or that the supernova created a black hole
G352 is found about 24,000 light years from Earth in the Milky Way galaxy. A paper describing these enigmatic results was published in the February 20th, 2014 issue of The Astrophysical Journal, and is available online. The first author of this paper is Thomas Pannuti from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, with co-authors Oleg Kargaltsev (George Washington University), Jared Napier (Morehead State), and Derek Brehm (George Washington).
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., controls Chandra's science and flight operations.