Chandra Sees Brightest Supernova Ever
According to observations by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes, the supernova SN 2006gy is the brightest and most energetic stellar explosion ever recorded and may be a long-sought new type of explosion. The top panel of this graphic is an artist's illustration that shows what SN 2006gy may have looked like if viewed at a close distance. The bottom left panel is an infrared image, using adaptive optics at the Lick Observatory, of NGC 1260, the galaxy containing SN 2006gy. The panel to the right shows Chandra's X-ray image of the same field of view, again showing the nucleus of NGC 1260 and SN 2006gy.
The Chandra observation allowed astronomers to determine that SN 2006gy was indeed caused by the collapse of an extremely massive star, and not the most likely alternative explanation for the explosion, the destruction of a low-mass star.
Image credit: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/UC Berkeley/N.Smith et al.; IR: Lick/UC Berkeley/J.Bloom & C.Hansen
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