2,000-year old Supernova RCW 86 mystery solved with the help of NASA telescopes

By on Oct 26, 2011 in Astronomy, Science, United States, World Comments

The 2,000-year old Supernova mystery is now considered solved, with the help of Spitzer Space Telescope of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


Remains of ancient Supernova, RCW 86, as seen
by NASA telescopes (Click Image To Enlarge)

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/CXC/SAO

As noted by NASA on its official website on Monday, October 24, 2011, modern space experts recently discovered the mystery behind the ancient Supernova, also known as RCW 86, which is about 8,000 light years away from the Earth.

According to the report, the 2,000-year old Supernova mystery was revealed through the help of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

“This supernova remnant got really big, really fast,” North Carolina State University astronomer Brian J. Williams was quoted in the press release; who is also the lead author of the new study posted online at Astrophysical Journal.

“It’s two to three times bigger than we would expect for a supernova that was witnessed exploding nearly 2,000 years ago. Now, we’ve been able to finally pinpoint the cause.” Williams added.

The Supernova RCW 86 was said to have appeared in the night sky back in 185AD and was noticed by the Chinese that time. They described it as a “guest star”, which was apparently seen for 8 months.

Based on the recent findings, the stellar explosion was said to have taken place in a hollowed-out cavity, which allowed the material expelled by the star to travel much farther and faster than it would have otherwise.

In addition, researchers also used the Spitzer and WISE to measure the temperature of the dust making up the residue of RCW 86, which is around -325 degrees Fahrenheit (-200 degrees Celsius).

Apart from the devices mentioned, previous data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Observatory were also used to solve the ancient mystery.

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