446 Years Ago On This Day, A Cosmic Explosion Lit The Sky And Baffled Everyone On Earth.

 In the early November of 1572, a dazzling cosmic explosion took place which illuminated the night sky and baffled almost everyone on earth. This perplexing explosion was of a supernova called SN 1572 ,widely  known as the Tycho’s Supernova.This event took place in the constellation Cassiopeia and was independently discovered by several individuals. Tycho’s Supernova is one of about the eight supernovae which have been visible to naked eyes in historical records.

530729main_tycho_665
Tycho’s Supernova as seen in X-Rays

This supernova has been named so after the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. Though he was not the first one to observe this 1572 supernova, but he did extensive work to explain this explosion and also published a complete book containing Tycho Brahe’s own observations along with the analysis made by other observers. Since supernovae were not discovered at that time, so this unkonown object or phenomenon was known as Tycho’s star at that time. Tycho’s star was finally classified as a supernova in 1944.

In the beginning, it was found to be as bright as Jupiter by Tycho, but the brightness of this supernova soon rose to a -4 magnitude, making it appear as bright as Venus. For about two weeks, the star could be seen in daylight, but by the end of November, it began to change its colours and finally faded from visibility in March 1574. It wasn’t until the 1950s, that the remnants of supernova could be seen again with the help of telescopes.

Being about 3,500 light years away and 3.7 arcminutes across, this 1572 supernova remnant is known to be a source of Radio and X-Ray radiations. In 2008, a team of international astronomers used light from the original explosive events reflected off by nearby interstellar dust to determine that this supernova was a type Ia supernova. These type of supernovae occur when a white dwarf star accretes

1-progenitorfo
Artist’s representation of a star sucking matter from companion star

material from a companion star and that material explodes in a thermonuclear reaction that destroys the white dwarf, this explosion can also occur when two white dwarfs collide and the mass of  resultant star exceeds the Chandrasekhar mass limit. The silicon, sodium, iron and other elements in the stellar spectrum of Tycho’s nova argue strongly for a two star solution, but still the uncertainity remains that how did it happen, simply by sucking matter from a nearby star or by collision of two white dwarfs!

 

Though most of the observations and results made by different telescopes supported the

2-progenitorfo (1)
Artist’s representation of merger of two white dwarfs

former view, but a recent research published by a group of scientists in 2017 debunked this scenario. The gas of this supernova remnant nebula is still expanding extremely rapidly at some 9000 Km per second. Though a lot of additions have been made to the study of this supernova from time to time, but a lot still remains to be uncovered. We still don’t have any concrete statement about the origin of this spectacular stellar show that took place back in 1572!

 

Advertisements

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s