20 years of observations: Chandra Observatory creates a unique timelapse of supernova remnants

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has been observing space objects for decades. This is enough to form a chronology that reflects the movement of objects in the depths of space. Recently, the observatory team released two timelapse videos taken over more than 20 years. The first video depicts the Crab Nebula (NGC 1952), the second — Cassiopeia A (Cas A).

The Crab Nebula is about 6.5 thousand light-years away from Earth. It was formed after a supernova explosion that occurred in 1054. Using Chandra images taken over 22 years, it is possible to see ring-shaped shock waves emanating from a superdense neutron star rapidly rotating in the nebula’s core. As a result, waves are formed in the environment. This rotating neutron star is also considered a pulsar — jets of matter shoot out from its poles.

Cassiopeia A is another supernova remnant located about 11 thousand light-years away from us. Its explosion was observed on Earth about 340 years ago. The new Chandra image shows an outward expanding region and an initial blast wave paving the way into space. Various shock waves move in opposite directions, penetrating matter, which is also captured on video. It took the observatory more than 19 years to create this timelapse.

Although Chandra is due to take new images of the Crab Nebula next year, the observatory’s future remains uncertain. Given NASA’s proposed budget for the coming years, Chandra may be closed permanently due to funding cuts. However, so far this is just a suggestion. It is also likely that the outrage of the astronomical community regarding the future fate of the observatory will change the situation before a final decision is made.

Earlier, we reported on how James Webb and Chandra joined forces.

According to space.com

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