Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
March 7, 1999
Explanation: How often do stars explode? By looking at external galaxies, astronomers can guess that these events, known as a supernovae, should occur about once every 30 years in a typical spiral galaxy like our MilkyWay. However, the obscuring gas and dust in the disk of our galaxy probably prevents us from seeing many galactic supernovae -- making observations of these events in our own galaxy relatively rare. In fact, in 1572, the revered Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, witnessed one of the last to be seen. The remnant of this explosion is still visible today as the shockwave it generated continues to expand into the gas and dust between the stars.Above is an image of the X-rays emitted by this shockwave made by a telescope onboard the ROSAT spacecraft. The nebula is known as Tycho's Supernova Remnant.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.