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Kepler's famous supernova revealed (pictures)

After more than four centuries, new clues emerge pointing to the origins of Kepler's 1604 supernova.

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Charles Cooper
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Kepler's supernova like you've never seen it before

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.
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2 of 8 ESA,NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team

Close-up visible light image of Kepler's supernova remnant.

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.
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3 of 8 Chandra X-ray Observatory

Chandra X-ray Observator

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.

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Shock wave in Kepler's supernova

The supernova was originally viewed by naked eye as this was still the pre-telescope era. The star faded from sight after a couple of years.
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Visible light image in Kepler's supernova

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6 of 8 NASA, ESA, R. Sankrit and W. Blair (Johns Hopkins University)

Kepler's supernova remnant in visible light

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Johannes Kepler and De Stella Nova (published 1604)

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8 of 8 California Institute of Technology Archives
A page from Kepler `De Stella Nova' written in 1606. The illustration shown here puts Kepler's supernova in the foot of the Ophiuchus constellation.

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