Long streamers of gas glow in the Large Magellanic cloud, remnants of a supernova blast that destroyed a white dwarf in a Type 1a supernova. Its remnants are known as SNR 0454-67.2. Such explosions occur when a white dwarf sucks in enough material from a companion star to reach a critical mass, triggering a catastrophic core collapse, rebound and shock wave that blows the star apart. Its remnants are blasted into the surrounding space, including heavy elements that were cooked up in the detonation. Because Type 1a supernovas all occur in the same fashion, they shine with a known brightness, or luminosity, that can be used to determine their distance. Such supernovae are known as “standard candles” and they are critical to modern cosmology, helping astronomers measure changes in the acceleration of the universe’s expansion due to dark energy.
Astrophysicists have taken a major step forward in understanding how supermassive black holes formed. Using data from three of NASA’s space telescopes, Italian researchers have found the best evidence to date that the direct collapse of a gas cloud produced supermassive black holes in the early universe.
This striking NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image depicts the low surface brightness (LSB) galaxy known as UGC 477, located just over 110 million light-years away in the constellation of Pisces. LSB galaxies appear to be dominated by dark matter, making them excellent objects to study to further our understanding of this elusive substance.
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures the remnants of a long-dead star. These rippling wisps of ionised gas, named DEM L316A, are the remains of an especially energetic Type Ia supernova located some 160,000 light-years away within one of the Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbours — the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).