NASA news: Meathook Galaxy where star died in nuclear blast caught by Hubble telescope

The galaxy, officially known as NGC 2442, has been nicknamed the Meathook Galaxy due to its irregular features. Two coiling arms appear to stretch out from its core, creating a winding, snake-like effect. Viewed from Earth, the galaxy sits in the southern constellation of Volans, the Flying Fish.

Snapped by NASA’s Hubble telescope, the galaxy is located a mind-boggling 50 million light-years away.

In more earthly terms, NGC 2442 is located some 293,931,270,000,000,000,000 miles away.

The galaxy measures about 75,000 light-years across and its shape is attributed to an encounter with a smaller galaxy.

And one of its dusty spiral arms was host to a supernova eruption that flared up in March 2015.

The supernova 2015F was unusually bright, enough to be seen with a small telescope.

And although the supernova was detected only five years ago, it erupted back when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

It then took the light from the explosion tens of millions of years to reach us.

The supernova was most likely a Type Ia explosion – a type of stellar supernova driven by a white dwarf star.

Supernovas are the biggest and most devastating explosions in the known Universe.

This unbalanced the star and triggered runaway nuclear fusion

European Space Agency (ESA)

The blasts are so big they can momentarily outshine their galaxies.

Astronomers divide supernovas into Type I and Type II blasts.

In this case, the eruption was triggered by a white dwarf star feeding on stellar matter beyond critical mass.

The European Space Agency (ESA), which operates Hubble with NASA, said: “The white dwarf was part of a binary star system and siphoned mass from its companion, eventually becoming too greedy and taking on more than it could handle.

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“This unbalanced the star and triggered runaway nuclear fusion that eventually led to an intensely violent supernova explosion.

“The supernova shone brightly for quite some time and was easily visible from Earth through even small telescopes until months later.”

The supernova remnant, SN2015F, is now too dim to see without a large telescope.

NASA said: “A supernova burns for only a short period of time, but it can tell scientists a lot about the universe.

“One kind of supernova has shown scientists that we live in an expanding universe, one that is growing at an ever-increasing rate.

“Scientists also have determined that supernovas play a key role in distributing elements throughout the universe.

“When the star explodes, it shoots elements and debris into space.

“Many of the elements we find here on Earth are made in the core of stars.”

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