Dead Exploded Star Resurrected in 3-D

Dead Exploded Star Resurrected in 3-D
A still from a new 3-D movie that flies through supernova grave that is Cassiopeia A. (Image credit: NASA/CXC/D.Berry)

The dying remains of anexploded star have been resurrected in a new three-dimensional film that fliesthrough the ancient supernova.

At center stage inthe new movie is Cassiopeia A, a dead star that exploded about 330 yearsago to forge one of the youngest supernova graves in the Milky Way galaxy.

Astronomers usedobservations from several ground- and space-based telescopes to build the 3-D voyagethrough the supernova, which starts at the remnant?s neutron star core. The moviethen pulls back to reveal the wispy, gaseous remains ofCassiopeia A in hues of red, green, yellow and blue to mark materials seenin different wavelengths.

"We have always wantedto know how the pieces we see in two dimensions fit together with each other inreal life," said Tracey Delaney of the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology, whose team reconstructed the event. "Now we can see forourselves with this 'hologram' of supernova debris."

The movie and a separatestudy on the same supernova remnant were announced this week at the 213thmeeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif.

In the separate study,astronomers collected a series of time-lapse images of Cassiopeia A?s recent evolution usingeight years of observations from the ChandraX-Ray Observatory. That study found that 30 percent of the supernova?senergy ended up as high-speed cosmic rays.

And by virtually flyingthrough thesupernova remnant, scientists discovered two separate components: aspherical outer shell and a flat, disk-like inner layer. Jets of silicon andiron were spotted in the inner disk, but scientists were surprised to see theirbroad, disk-like structure, researchers said. The finding suggests that theinnermost layers of an exploding star erupt as high-speed plumes, while theoutermost regions expand like a spherical bubble.

"With Chandra, we havewatched Cas A over a relatively small amount of its life, but so far the showhas been amazing," said astronomer Daniel Patnaude of the SmithsonianAstrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. "And, we can use this tolearn more about the aftermath of the star's explosion."

  • NewVideo - Flying Through a Supernova?s Grave
  • Video- Supernovas: Beacons in the Night
  • Images- The Chandra X-Ray Observatory?s First Years


Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.