A colorful jellyfish floats in this image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.
What stories or images do you see in this explosion of light and color? Leave a note below.
IC 443, also known as the Jellyfish Nebula, is a supernova remnant. Created by a colossal stellar explosion, IC 443 shows an expanding bubble of debris. What interests scientists most is the way the explosion affects the surrounding area. Stars like our Sun usually become planetary nebula. But stars with many times the mass of the Sun burn through their nuclear fuel quickly. Within just a few million years, these massive stars explode. Their light can easily outshine an entire galaxy for a brief time. IC 443 is all that remains of a star that exploded 5,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Explore the expanding shockwave surrounding the supernova. This supernova blast wave moves through thick cloud of gas and dust. The wave sweeps aside and heats the gas and dust causing it to glow. Colors in this infrared image show the differences in energies of the shockwave. The upper part of the shell, seen as a violet, shows a fast shockwave while the bottom half, with its bluish colored tendrils, was hit with a slower shockwave. Elements such as iron, neon, silicon and oxygen give the upper half its purplish color.
IC 443 is found about 4,890 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Gemini, the Twins. The expanding shell of debris is about 65 light-years across.
The WISE orbiting telescope surveyed the sky from December 2010 until it was turned off in February 2011. To view the universe in infrared wavelengths, the satellites sensors had to be kept very cold. Coolant needed to keep its images sharp ran out and the satellite stopped sending useful data.