SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Star Blasts, Titan Shadow, More

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Star Blasts, Titan Shadow, More
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December 17, 2009--Kepler's supernova remnant (right) and the remnant G292.0+1.8 represent two distinct ways a star can die, according to a recent study based on Chandra X-ray Observatory pictures. The study uncovered a way to match a remnant's shape to the way its star exploded.

Some supernova remnants, including Kepler's, form when a white dwarf star steals so much matter from a nearby star that the white dwarf heats up until it explodes. These so-called Type-Ia supernovae usually leave remnants with symmetrical, puffball-like appearances. (See some of the more famous "puffball" supernova remnants.)

By contrast, very massive stars such as G292.0+1.8 can explode when they run out of hydrogen and helium and start creating heavier elements. A build up of iron in the core eventually causes the core to collapse, producing an explosion that leaves behind an asymmetrical remnant.
— Images courtesy NASA/CXC/UCSC/L. Lopez et al.
 
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