The Guest Star - Super Nova Remnant SN 1006

This beautiful structure is the result of a violent explosion that happened thousands of years ago. This remnant is located 7,200 light-years away in the constellation Lupus. In the year 1006 a bright light dominated the night sky for all of humanity to see. This bright explosion was the brightest object in the night sky (other than that moon) and was ¼th the brightness of the moon. All over the world observations of this strange super bright star were recorded. Even to this day there has not been an object brighter than SN 1006 observed in the night sky. After it’s initial brightness faded, astronomers began to call this object the “guest star”; at the time they could not have known the complexities it contained.

Credit: ESO

Supernova remnant 1006

When the object we now call SN 1006 first appeared on May 1, 1006 A.D., it was far brighter than Venus and visible during the daytime for weeks. Astronomers in China, Japan, Europe, and the Arab world all documented this spectacular sight. With the advent of the Space Age in the 1960s, scientists were able to launch instruments and detectors above Earth’s atmosphere to observe the Universe in wavelengths that are blocked from the ground, including X-rays. SN 1006 was one of the faintest X-ray sources detected by the first generation of X-ray satellites.

A new image of SN 1006 from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals this supernova remnant in exquisite detail. By overlapping ten different pointings of Chandra’s field-of-view, astronomers have stitched together a cosmic tapestry of the debris field that was created when a white dwarf star exploded, sending its material hurtling into space. In this new Chandra image, low, medium, and higher-energy X-rays are colored red, green, and blue respectively.

Image credit: NASA

Supernova SN 1006: Cause of Brightest Stellar Event in Recorded History Illuminated

ScienceDaily (Sep. 27, 2012) — Between April 30 and May 1 of the year 1006, the brightest stellar event ever recorded in history occurred: a supernova, or stellar explosion, that was widely observed by various civilizations from different places on Earth. More than a thousand years later a team led by researchers from the University of Barcelona, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the CSIC has found that the supernova of 1006 (SN 1006) probably occurred as a result of the merger of two white dwarfs.

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SN 1006

SN 1006 is a supernova remnant located about 7,000 light years away towards the constellation Lupus. The light from the explosion reached Earth in 1006 c.e., when the object became one of the brightest in the sky for several weeks. This image is about 70 light years across.

SN 1006 is a remnant from a Type 1a supernova, a supernova caused by a white dwarf star either accreting mass from a companion star or merging with another white dwarf and gaining enough mass to collapse into a supernova. These events are used as landmarks for astronomers to measure the expansion of the universe. Scientists are also working to determine the composition of the original star by looking at the elements in the debris. The remnant is also changing, as some material flies off at almost 11 million miles per hour while some saunters away at only 7 million miles per hour.

Image and information from Chandra.