Rare old supernova found 20,000 light years away

Astronomers from the American Astronomical Society found a supernova remnant in a place far away from us, but still on the edge of the Milky Way. The object was named (SNR) G344.7-0.1 and is almost at 20 a thousand light years away from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Scorpio. In addition to being interesting when observed at different types of wavelengths, these stellar explosion remnants are also very useful for astronomy.

  • Supernova of Type Ia explodes in an unusual region of its host galaxy
  • Scientists create the most complete type Ia supernova model ever obtained
  • These dwarf stars are spiraling toward supernova explosion

Physically, white dwarfs are unable to explode in a supernova, because they have a mass below the Chandrasekhar limit — the maximum mass that can be supported, above which the star explodes. Fortunately, for supernova hunters, there are still ways for a white dwarf to collapse, especially if it’s part of a binary system. Just feed on enough matter until it exceeds the limit.

When a white dwarf explodes, the remnant is called a Type Ia supernova, and it was precisely one of them that the researchers found when analyzing data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. “We estimate that SNR G344.7-0.1 has about 3. to 6. years in the period of Earth’s time,” said Kotaro Fukushima, an astronomer at the Tokyo University of Science and lead author of the study describing the discovery.

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Illustration of a white dwarf feeding on material from its companion star, a process that can cause it to explode (Image: Reproduction/NASA/CXC/M. Weiss)

There are some Type Ia well known by scientists and widely observed, much closer to us. But finding these objects is important, no matter where they are, because they can be used as a standard sail to measure distances in the universe. In addition, Type Ia supernovae help to enrich the galaxy’s matter with elements such as iron, for example.

There is also another curiosity about the SNR G344.7-0.1, related to your age. It’s just that your debris cloud has gone through a sequence of interactions with shock waves, something that younger supernovae like Kepler and Tycho haven’t had time to do. Now astronomers can look to better understand how this works. As the debris moves away from the initial explosion, the resistance of the surrounding gas causes a reduction in their speed.

This speed reduction creates a reverse shock wave that travels back to the center of the explosion. This heats the debris to millions of degrees, causing it to glow in X-rays, which in turn tells astronomers a lot about the supernova. “The region with the highest iron density is surrounded by arc-like structures containing silicon,” the scientists said, suggesting that such structures may reveal the presence of sulfur, argon and calcium.


This Chandra image from the SNR G344.7-0.1 shows that iron denser is located to the right of the geometric center (Image: Reproduction/NASA/CX Tokyo University of Science/Fukushima)

In addition, the data show that the region with the highest iron density was heated by reverse shock more recently than the elements in the arc-shaped structures. “These results support model predictions for Type Ia supernova explosions, which show that heavier elements are produced inside an exploding white dwarf.” The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Source: Sci-News, Chandra

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