NASA has released a stunning image showing the remnants of a massive ancient supernova.
Light from the original star’s explosion took around 11,000 years to reach Earth – in the late 17th century.
Experts believe astronomers may have spotted it at the time.
But only now has NASA been able to capture a detailed snapshot showing the remains of the stellar space event.
Every so often, large stars collapse from vast cosmic clouds, igniting and creating heavy elements in their cores.
After a few million years, this material is blasted out into interstellar space – kicking off star formation all over again.
The expanding debris cloud named Cassiopeia A is a great example of this, taking place nearly 12,000 years ago.
NASA managed to snap an image of the explosive remains using the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope.
It shows the hot filaments and knots in the so-called “remnant.”
“Still expanding, the outer blast wave is seen in blue hues,” said NASA.
“The bright speck near the center is a neutron star, the incredibly dense, collapsed remains of the massive stellar core.”
It’s the youngest known supernova remnant in our Milky Way galaxy.
It’s also the strongest extrasolar radio source in the sky – at least as far as we know.
Astronomers believe that the supernova must have blown up around the year 1667.
But NASA says that “strangely, it was not widely noticed by that epoch’s astronomers.”
However, it may have been observed by John Flamsteed on August 16, 1689.
He cataloged a star near its position as “3 Cassipeiae,” but didn’t recognize it as a supernova – but instead recorded it as a normal star.
This star wasn’t noticed anywhere else, so NASA suspects it wasn’t particularly bright as seen from Earth.
The supernova remnant was firstly formally detected in 1947 by radio astronomers in Cambridge, England.
And astronomers eventually calculated that the star’s expansion must have started in the year 1667.
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