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Supercomputer generates an image with unprecedented details of the remains of a supernova explosion

Shows the material ejected by the explosion of a dying star as it travels at supersonic speeds.

Thanks to the use of latest generation radio telescopes and the new supercomputing system of Australia, Setonix, a team of researchers managed to produce a spectacular image of the remnants of a supernova, in which the traces left by the dying star can be seen in unprecedented detail.

During the first day of Setonix operations, researchers from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization used the system to generate an image of the star G261.9+5.5, a supernova of more than one million years old located in our galaxy, at a distance between 10,000 and 15,000 light years from Earth.

As the academics explained to The Conversation, the 36 antennas of the ASKAP radio telescope managed to capture the material ejected from the explosion while moving towards the surrounding interstellar medium at supersonic speeds.

Traces of a dying star

The shock wave, they detailed, drags any material in its path, heating it to very high temperatures; furthermore, it compresses interstellar magnetic fields in the process. The emissions observed in the image, they pointed out, come from highly energized electrons trapped in these compressed fields.

The results obtained, the academics highlighted, provide information on the history of exploded star and on aspects of the surrounding interstellar medium. The structure of this remnant revealed by ASKAP opens the possibility of studying the physical properties (such as magnetic fields and high-energy electron densities) of celestial bodies and phenomena “in unprecedented detail.”

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