More than 400 years after skywatchers -- including astronomer Johannes Kepler -- witnessed the appearance of a spectacular new star in the night sky, astronomers have uncovered important new about the origins of this famous supernova. After a week of observation, Kepler wrote a book about the supernova sighting.
A new study published online and in the February 10th, 2013 issue of The Astrophysical Journal found that the explosion was both more powerful than astronomers believed and may also have taken place farther out in space than once thought. Estimates vary between ten thousand light-years to as much as fifteen and twenty-one thousand light-years.
Caption byCharles Cooper / Photo by ESA,NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team
The supernova remnant is a fast-moving shell of iron-rich material from an exploded star. This 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.
The hottest gas in the remnant shows up as blue in this image.
Cooler X-rays from the region are colored green.