Release 517 of 1,073

NASA Space Observatories Glimpse Faint Afterglow of Nearby Stellar Explosion

Release date: Oct 4, 2005 9:00 AM (EDT)
Release type: Hubble Heritage

Intricate wisps of glowing gas float amid a myriad of stars in this image of the supernova remnant, N132D. The ejected material shows that roughly 3,000 years have passed since the supernova blast. As this titanic explosion took place in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby neighbor galaxy some 160,000 light-years away, the light from the supernova remnant is dated as being 163,000 years old from clocks on Earth. This composite image of N132D comprises visible-light data taken in January 2004 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, and X-ray images obtained in July 2000 by Chandra's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer. The complex structure of N132D is due to the expanding supersonic shock wave from the explosion impacting the interstellar gas of the LMC. A supernova remnant like N132D provides information on stellar evolution and the creation of chemical elements such as oxygen through nuclear reactions in their cores.