View Full Version : Latest from Hubble

07-04-2008, 09:43 AM
Supernova Remnant S1006-


The full shell image-


A delicate ribbon of gas floats eerily in our galaxy. A contrail from an alien spaceship? A jet from a black-hole? Actually this image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, is a very thin section of a supernova remnant caused by a stellar explosion that occurred more than 1,000 years ago.

On or around May 1, 1006 A.D., observers from Africa to Europe to the Far East witnessed and recorded the arrival of light from what is now called SN 1006, a tremendous supernova explosion caused by the final death throes of a white dwarf star nearly 7,000 light-years away. The supernova was probably the brightest star ever seen by humans, and surpassed Venus as the brightest object in the night time sky, only to be surpassed by the moon. It was visible even during the day for weeks, and remained visible to the naked eye for at least two and a half years before fading away.

It wasn't until the mid-1960s that radio astronomers first detected a nearly circular ring of material at the recorded position of the supernova. The ring was almost 30 arcminutes across, the same angular diameter as the full moon. The size of the remnant implied that the blast wave from the supernova had expanded at nearly 20 million miles per hour over the nearly 1,000 years since the explosion occurred.

In 1976, the first detection of exceedingly faint optical emission of the supernova remnant was reported, but only for a filament located on the northwest edge of the radio ring. A tiny portion of this filament is revealed in detail by the Hubble observation. The twisting ribbon of light seen by Hubble corresponds to locations where the expanding blast wave from the supernova is now sweeping into very tenuous surrounding gas.

The hydrogen gas heated by this fast shock wave emits radiation in visible light. Hence, the optical emission provides astronomers with a detailed "snapshot" of the actual position and geometry of the shock front at any given time. Bright edges within the ribbon correspond to places where the shock wave is seen exactly edge on to our line of sight.

Today we know that SN 1006 has a diameter of nearly 60 light-years, and it is still expanding at roughly 6 million miles per hour. Even at this tremendous speed, however, it takes observations typically separated by years to see significant outward motion of the shock wave against the grid of background stars. In the Hubble image as displayed, the supernova would have occurred far off the lower right corner of the image, and the motion would be toward the upper left.

SN 1006 resides within our Milky Way Galaxy. Located more than 14 degrees off the plane of the galaxy's disk, there is relatively little confusion with other foreground and background objects in the field when trying to study this object. In the Hubble image, many background galaxies (orange extended objects) far off in the distant universe can be seen dotting the image. Most of the white dots are foreground or background stars in our Milky Way galaxy.

This image is a composite of hydrogen-light observations taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys in February 2006 and Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 observations in blue, yellow-green, and near-infrared light taken in April 2008. The supernova remnant, visible only in the hydrogen-light filter was assigned a red hue in the Heritage color image.

07-04-2008, 09:46 AM
Wow, that's gorgeous!

07-04-2008, 09:56 AM
Now if I could just get back there in the TARDIS with my old speed-graphic!

That is spectacular Rob, thanks.

07-04-2008, 10:25 AM
Here are a few of my Hubble favorites. The number of staggeringly beautiful images that project has returned is alone enough to justify the cost.





07-04-2008, 10:27 AM
Can't find it at the mo, but the horsehead nebula pic justified the cost of the "contact lens" too :)

07-04-2008, 10:32 AM
cool pics wierdscience :)

07-04-2008, 10:43 AM
And to think when I was young they taught us Einstein was wrong about his theory of Relativity. Gee - how the scientific community has eaten their words on that one

07-04-2008, 11:26 AM
Thank you for your outstanding post, WeirdScience!

If anyone is not awed by your post and the linked pictures, what will?

Best regards,


Your Old Dog
07-04-2008, 01:07 PM
Thanks Wierd. I find looking at these images almost a religous experiance. Someday I'll be able to gaze at the heavens from the back yard with a nice scope. It's one of the reason I want to RV out west away from Buffalo Lake Erie weather trauma!

Evan it amazes me that the heavens can produce such stunning images by accident when an artist couldn't come up with his own beauty in a live time of trying.

07-04-2008, 01:12 PM
And to think when I was young they taught us Einstein was wrong about his theory of Relativity. Gee - how the scientific community has eaten their words on that one

"Scientific theories change one funeral at a time"

Any new theory that challenges the dominant paradigm will take time to spread. How long did it take for people to accept that the world was round? That Earth revolved around the Sun? That plate tectonics was an accurate model of geologic development?

Note that the very nature of science forces its practitioners to eat their words from time to time, otherwise it's not science anymore. Many people become less and less accepting of change in their world views as they get older, and of course this is true of scientists as well.

- Bart

07-04-2008, 01:37 PM
This Hubble image and a bunch more like it are the clincher for Einstein's theory. The arcs in the image are light from distant galaxies behind the ones visible in the picture. The masses of the visible galaxies are acting as gravitational lenses and bend the light around the intervening galaxies just as Einstein predicted. It's a real shame he didn't live long enough to see this proof. It can only be explained if he was right.

They are called Einstein Rings and Einstein Arcs.


07-04-2008, 02:19 PM
Is there any truth to the rumour, that a decent (large aperture) optical telescope may be parked on the far side of the moon?
(yes, Luna!)

07-04-2008, 11:01 PM
Is there any truth to the rumour, that a decent (large aperture) optical telescope may be parked on the far side of the moon?
(yes, Luna!)

Dunno about that,but this puppy is slated to fly in 2013-


Click on the links to see the rest of the tech going into this one.

07-04-2008, 11:14 PM
There isn't any particular advantage to putting an optical scope on the moon. It would also become contaminated by the moon's atmosphere.

What the moon would be an ideal location for is a very large array radio telescope. The bulk of the moon makes a very good shield against noise from Earth.