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Stellar 'shrapnel' blown out of supernova explosion captured


The supernova remnant N49 captured by Chandra X-ray Observatory. A NASA photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): A bullet-shaped object blown out of a supernova remnant and speeding away from its source has been captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

The blue-coloured bullet is moving at a speed of about 5 million miles an hour from its point source which lies in the upper part of N49 supernova remnant. The N49 has been spotted in the Large Magellenic Cloud which is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

The detection of the bullet shows that the explosion that destroyed the star was highly asymmetric, NASA said.

The bright source point in the upper left part of N49 may be a soft gamma ray repeater (SGR) – a source that emits gamma rays and X-rays, believe astronomers.

The SGRs are believed to be neutron stars with extremely powerful magnetic fields. Such stars often take birth in supernova explosions.

In the case of N49, the apparent alignment of the bullet’s path and the bright X-ray source strengthens the case that the SGR has been created out of a supernova explosion.

However, as per the Chandra data, the bright X-ray source is obscured by gas than expected if it lies in the supernova remnant. In other words, it is possible that the bright X-ray source actually lies beyond the supernova remnant and is projected along the line of sight, NASA said.

The age of N49 is estimated to be about 5,000 years. The supernova remnant is the result of the collapse of a massive star as astronomers believe the energy released by the explosion was about twice that of an average supernova.

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