Stellar shrapnel

Several thousand years ago, a star some 160 000 light-years away from us exploded, scattering stellar shrapnel across the sky. The aftermath of this energetic detonation is shown here in this striking image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3.

The exploding star was a white dwarf located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of our nearest neighbouring galaxies. Around 97% of stars within the Milky Way that are between a tenth and eight times the mass of the Sun are expected to end up as white dwarfs. These stars can face a number of different fates, one of which is to explode as supernovae, some of the brightest events ever observed in the Universe. If a white dwarf is part of a binary star system, it can siphon material from a close companion. After gobbling up more than it can handle — and swelling to approximately one and a half times the size of the Sun — the star becomes unstable and ignites as a Type Ia supernova.

This was the case for the supernova remnant pictured here, which is known as DEM L71. It formed when a white dwarf reached the end of its life and ripped itself apart, ejecting a superheated cloud of debris in the process. Slamming into the surrounding interstellar gas, this stellar shrapnel gradually diffused into the separate fiery filaments of material seen scattered across this skyscape.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, Y. Chu

About the Image

Id:potw1633a
Type:Observation
Release date:15 August 2016, 06:00
Size:4059 x 3030 px

About the Object

Name:DEM L71
Type:Local Universe : Nebula : Type : Supernova Remnant
Distance:160000 light years
Constellation:Dorado
Category:Nebulae

Image Formats

Large JPEG
3.8 MB
Screensize JPEG
316.0 KB

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343.0 KB
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Coordinates

Position (RA):5 5 44.54
Position (Dec):-67° 52' 48.89"
Field of view:2.68 x 2.00 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 41.6° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
457 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
H-alpha
656 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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