Webb Telescope Captures Stunning Image of ‘Green Monster’ Supernova Remnant

The James Webb Space Telescope is coming up on its first anniversary since coming online, and already it has peered back into the earliest eons of the universe. It has also focused on objects in our celestial backyard, like the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A). Webb has beamed back a new image of Cas A that reveals never-before-seen details that could help astronomers better understand the origin of us.Cassiopeia A is notable because it’s our galaxy’s youngest known supernova remnant. It’s a mere 11,000 light-years away, and the light from the supernova first reached Earth 340 years ago. Like all massive stars, the Cas A progenitor star ran out of fuel and exploded in a supernova, leaving behind a cloud of slowly expanding debris. Similar structures are much farther away or older, but Cas A allows scientists to study the elements and molecules ejected from the dead star.

Webb was designed from the ground up for precisely this kind of observation. The telescope’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) can peer past the cocoon of dust and gas surrounding Cas A, revealing new features invisible to other observatories. The colors in the Webb image have been shifted into the visible spectrum. The orange and red sections wrapping around the top of the image indicate warm dust, marking where the material ejected from the dying star has started colliding with interstellar gas. Outside the shell, the curls of pink come from material within the star rich in heavy elements like oxygen, argon, and neon. Scientists are still trying to sort out all the emissions in these regions…

Source: Webb Telescope Captures Stunning Image of ‘Green Monster’ Supernova Remnant

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