NASA solves 2,000 year old supernova mystery

October 25, 2011 | by | 0 Comments

Pop the Champagne … scientists today revealed they have solved a 2,000 year old mystery as to how the first ever recorded supernova took place.

NASA solve 2,000 year old supernova mystery

Chinese astronomers documented a massive explosion in 185 A.D when they witnessed a strange light in the sky for eight months.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists realised this was the first recorded supernova – but cosmic experts were baffled by the size of its remains.

Boffins from NASA say the star, similar in size to our Sun, died peacefully and turned into a White Dwarf before another star dumped material onto it and pushed it beyond the brink of stability.

This resulted in a stellar explosion taking place in a hollowed out cavity, allowing material to be ”expelled” from the star further and at a faster speed than normal without being impeded.

Brian J. Williams, an astronomer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, said: ”This supernova remnant got really big, really fast.

”It’s two to three times bigger than we would expect for a supernova that was witnessed exploding nearly 2,000 years ago. Now, we’ve been able to finally pinpoint the cause.

”A white dwarf is like a smoking cinder from a burnt-out fire. If you pour gasoline on it, it will explode.”

The interstellar gas was heated to MILLIONS of degrees as a result of the shock wave from the supernova – with the event taking place 8,000 light years away.

One single light year is the equivalent to SIX TRILLION MILES. The supernova, named RCW 86, has a diameter of 510 trillion miles.

Scientists studied infrared observations made with the Spitzer and WISE telescopes and previous data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Observatory.

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