Ash Halo Remnant of a Supernova Discovered


Astronomers have discovered n images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope that a pulsar, the remnant of a stellar explosion, is surrounded by a disk of its own ashes -the first such halo ever found. 

The pulsar, called 4U 0142+61 (image above), was once a massive star, until about 100,000 years ago, when it blew up in a supernova explosion and scattered dusty debris into space. Some of that debris was captured into what astronomers refer to as a “fallback disk,” now circling the leftover stellar core, or pulsar. The disk resembles protoplanetary disks around young stars, out of which planets are thought to be born. 

The data in the plot image, or spectrum, were taken by ground-based telescopes and Spitzer. They show that light from around the pulsar can be divided into two categories: direct light from the pulsar, and light from the dusty disk swirling around the pulsar. This excess light was detected by Spitzer’s infrared array camera because it’s cooler than the pulsar. 

The data have been corrected to remove the effects of light scattering from dust that lies between Earth and the pulsar. The ground-based data is from the Keck I telescope atop Mauna 

Casey Kazan via 3Dastronomer 


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