News Release Archive:

News Release 65 of 168

June 7, 2005 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2005-15

Supernova Remnant Menagerie

A Hubble Heritage Release

June 7, 2005: A violent and chaotic-looking mass of gas and dust is seen in this Hubble Space Telescope image of a nearby supernova remnant. Denoted N 63A, the object is the remains of a massive star that exploded, spewing its gaseous layers out into an already turbulent region.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. Where is this object located?

  2. Visible from the southern hemisphere, the LMC is an irregular galaxy lying 160,000 light-years from our own Milky Way galaxy in the direction of the constellation Dorado. The supernova remnant, N63A, is enclosed within the star-forming region, N 63, which itself is located in the large super bubble, LMC-4.

  3. 2. What do we know about the star that exploded to create the N 63A

  4. It is estimated that the progenitor of the supernova that produced the remnant seen here was about 50 times more massive than our own Sun. Such a massive star has strong stellar winds that can clear away its ambient medium, forming a wind-blown bubble. The supernova that formed N 63A is thought to have exploded inside the central cavity of such a wind-blown bubble, which was itself embedded in a clumpy portion of the LMC's interstellar medium.

  5. 3. What are astronomers learning by studying this object?

  6. The LMC provides excellent examples of active star formation and supernova remnants. Images in the infrared, X-ray, and radio emission of N 63A show a much more expanded bubble that totally encompasses the optical emission seen by Hubble. As the HST images have illustrated, N 63A is still young and its ruthless shocks are destroying ambient gas clouds, rather than coercing them to collapse and form stars. In a few million years, the supernova ejecta from N 63A will reach nearby star-formation sites and may be incorporated into the formation of planets around solar-type stars there.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Acknowledgment: Y.-H. Chu and R. M. Williams (UIUC)