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Supernova remnants. This celestial spiral was a disaster site

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The Hubble Space Telescope observed the spiral galaxy UGC 11860, which recently experienced a massive explosion. Studying such “cosmic catastrophes” could help us better understand how the elements that make up planets like Earth were formed.

Spiral galaxy UGC 11860, about 184 million light-years away in the constellation of Pegasus, has been captured in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Her calm appearance is deceptive – galaxy this one was recently the site of an unimaginably powerful stellar explosion.

Source of important elements

A supernova is the explosion of a massive star. One of the causes of the explosion is the exhaustion of its nuclear “fuel” – the huge core of the celestial body then collapses under its weight, eventually leading to an explosion. In 2014, such an event was detected in the galaxy UGC 11860. Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to scour the remnants of this huge cosmic explosion.

The processes that occur during supernova explosions are primarily responsible for the creation of elements that lie between silicon and nickel in the periodic table, including phosphorus, sulfur and potassium. That’s why scientists chose to study UGC 11860 – understanding how the mass and composition of the original star affect its explosion could help us explain how many of the elements now found on Earth and other planets were formed.

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UGC 11860 through the lens of the Hubble telescopeESA/Hubble/NASA/A. Filippenko/JD Lyman

As reported by the European Space Agency (ESA), astronomers have also used the Hubble telescope to track supernovae detected by robotic telescopes. They work automatically, recording fleeting events in the night sky. Such telescopes allow astronomers to detect many phenomena, from asteroids to supernovae, which can then be studied in detail with more powerful equipment.

Main photo source: ESA/Hubble/NASA/A. Filippenko/JD Lyman



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