James Webb depicts Cassiopeia A in detail

James Webb captures the remnants of the supernova Cassiopeia A. The new image may reveal more about the origin of the planet’s building blocks.

Cassiopeia A is the remnant of an exploding star located about 1,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. The light from the explosion has been visible in our blue orbit for about 340 years and is the youngest known supernova remnant in our galaxy. A new, detailed image created by an international team of astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the cosmic dust produced by supernovae, the building block of planets.

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Full of information

This isn’t the first time Cassiopeia A has been photographed, but not many details have been seen before. The MIRI instrument allowed the Webb telescope to observe mid-infrared light, capturing more detail in the supernova remnant than ever before. Wavelengths invisible to the human eye were then digitally converted into visible light.

The striking colors of the new image contain a wealth of scientific information, and researchers are just beginning to sort it out. “I will spend the rest of my career trying to understand what is in this dataset,” Danny Milisavljevic, the team’s principal investigator, said in a press release.

green monster

And on the outside of the image, especially at the top and left, there is a kind of orange and red curtain made of hot dust expelled from the explosion. According to the researchers, this material collides with the surrounding dust and gas, giving it the shape of a curtain. More towards the center of the image is a pinkish substance made up of several heavy elements, such as oxygen, argon, and neon.

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Perhaps the most notable is the green ring to the right of center. “We named this ‘green monster’ in honor of Fenway Park[a baseball field, ed.]in Boston. If you look closely, you’ll see that it’s filled with what look like little bubbles,” Milisavljevic says. “The shape and complexity are unexpected and challenging for our research.”

The building blocks of planets

Previous studies have shown that very young galaxies are filled with cosmic dust. With new images of Cassiopeia A, astronomers hope to find out where it came from. Perhaps supernovae play an important role in this; The explosion releases large amounts of heavy elements that are constituents of space dust.

Cosmic dust particles are interesting because they are the building blocks of planets. So with Webb’s new images, astronomers not only want to know more about supernovae and their remnants, but also about the origin of the matter that makes up planets, like Earth.

on the ESA website Can you compare the Hubble image with the new Webb image of Cassiopeia A.

sources: NASAAnd ESAAnd Ghent University

Image: NASA, ESA, CSA, DD Milisavljevic (Purdue), T. Temim (Princeton), I. De Looze (Ghent University). Image processing: J. DePasquale (STScI)

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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