"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
Supernova remnant E0102-72 from radio to x-ray
Not all stars form a big Q after they explode. The shape of supernova remnant E0102-72, however, is giving astronomers a clue about how tremendous explosions disperse elements and interact with surrounded gas. The above image is a composite of three different photographs in three different types of light. Radio waves, shown in red, trace high-energy electrons spiraling around magnetic field lines in the shock wave expanding out from the detonated star. Optical light, shown in green, traces clumps of relatively cool gas that includes oxygen. X-rays, shown in blue, show relatively hot gas that has been heated to millions of degrees. This gas has been heated by an inward moving shock wave that has rebounded from a collision with existing or slower moving gas. This big Q currently measures 40 light-years across and was found in our neighboring SMC galaxy. Perhaps we would know even more if we could buy a vowel.
Image credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO); optical (NASA/HST); radio: (ATNF/ ATCA)