Chandra Reveals Rich Oxygen Supply
Description: This striking Chandra X-Ray Observatory image of supernova remnant SNR0103-72.6 reveals a nearly perfect ring about 150 light years in diameter surrounding a cloud of gas enriched in oxygen and shock-heated to millions of degrees Celsius. The ring marks the outer limits of a shock wave produced as material ejected in the supernova explosion collides with the interstellar gas. The size of the ring indicates that we see the supernova remnant as it was about 10,000 years after its progenitor star exploded. Located in the Small Magenellanic Cloud (SMC), SNR 0103-72.6 is about 190,000 light years from Earth. The x-rays take about 190,000 years to reach us from the SMC, so the supernova explosion occurred about 200,000 years ago, as measured on Earth. Scientists have know for years that oxygen and many other elements necessary for life are created in massive stars and dispersed in supernova explosions, but few remnants rich in these elements have been observed. This supernova remnant will hence become an important laboratory for studying how stars forge the elements necessary for life.
Date: May 27, 2003