Credit: NASA/CXC/NCSU/S.Reynolds et al.
Explore the remains and expanding shell of this blasted star. What stories does your imagination create? Leave a note below.
In 1604, a new star appeared in the evening sky. The star in the foot of the constellation Ophiuchus, the Snake Bearer, outshined all other stars and planets except for Venus and was even visible during the day. Astronomer Johannes Kepler observed the new bright object. The telescope was not invented yet, so astronomers of this time relied on the unaided eye to report on the star.
Supernovae are huge explosions and become the ultimate end of some stars. Supernovae explosions give off so much energy that they can outshine an entire galaxy for a short time. Scientists believe that the Kepler Supernova is a Type 1A supernova. These types of supernova happen when a white dwarf star pulls material from an orbiting companion. Eventually, so much material piles up onto the white dwarf that it becomes unstable and explodes; destroying itself in a thermonuclear explosion.
In visible light, the supernova is not very spectacular. The explosion did create an expanding shell of debris that slams into the calm space surrounding the star. This heats up the gases to millions of degrees and energizes the particles giving off X-rays that can be seen in more detail by the orbiting Chandra Observatory.
The Kepler Supernova was the second supernova seen in a generation. The first was a supernova described by Tycho Brahe in the constellation of Cassiopeia. It was the last supernova seen in our galaxy. The Kepler Supernova is found about about 20,000 light-years from Earth.