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10.06.04

Chandra High Energy X-ray View of Kepler's Supernova Remnant - SN 1604

This High Energy X-ray image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the expanding remains of a supernova, called Kepler's supernova remnant, first seen 400 years ago by sky watchers, including famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. The supernova remnant is a fast-moving shell of iron-rich material from an exploded star, surrounded by an expanding shock wave that is sweeping up interstellar gas and dust. The image reveals a bubble-shaped shroud of gas and dust that is 14 light-years wide and is expanding at 4 million miles per hour (2,000 kilometers per second). The Chandra X-ray data show regions of very hot gas, and extremely high-energy particles. The hottest gas is located primarily in the regions directly behind the shock front. The X-rays from the region on the lower left may be dominated by extremely high-energy electrons that were produced by the shock wave and are radiating at radio through X-ray wavelengths as they spiral in the intensified magnetic field behind the shock front.

Kepler's supernova, the last such object seen to explode in our Milky Way galaxy, resides about 13,000 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.

The Chandra observations were taken in June 2000.