The opening years of the Fourth Century saw work start on St. Peters Basilica in Rome, and the astronomer Pappus of Alexandria composed details of his observation of an eclipse of the Sun. In the southern hemisphere, a star was seen erupting within a small, fuzzy patch of the night sky.
Regrettably, no records endured telling of this celestial event south of the equator. Astronomers have actually now turned the mighty gaze of the Hubble Space Telescope to examine the residues of this titanic surge, called 1E 0102.2– 729. By studying the cloud of gas and dust left behind, astronomers wish to piece together the story of the eruption that created this splendid nebula.
1E 0102.2– 7219– Charming name. Rolls off the tongue …
A take a look at 1E 0102.2– 7219, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: ESA/ HSST
Rolls off the tongue …
NASAs Einstein Observatory. Image credit: NASA
A look at 1E 0102.2– 7219, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Watch our interview with UC Boulder astronomer Dr. Allison Youngblood, talking about her work using the Hubble Space Telescope.”A previous study compared images taken years apart with 2 different electronic cameras on Hubble, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). Our study compares information taken with the very same electronic camera, the ACS, making the contrast much more robust; the knots were much simpler to track utilizing the exact same instrument.
The eruption forming the nebula was seen in the world 1,700 years earlier, however the explosion was not acknowledged by astronomers till just recently. Seen in the Small Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way 200,000 light years from Earth), this nebula was initially seen, in X-ray light, by NASAs Einstein Observatory.
Another Hubble image of 1E 0102.2– 7219, showing gas and dust racing away from the center of the blast. Image credit: ESA/ HSST
By studying images of 1E 0102.2– 7219 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope 10 years apart, astronomers were able to see how the nebula changed gradually.
Knots within the nebula relocation at different speeds and instructions from the center of the blast, at typical velocities of 3.2 million kph (nearly two million MPH). At that speed, it would be possible to take a trip from the Earth to the Moon and back in just 15 minutes.
[Read: How Netflix shapes mainstream culture, discussed by data] Earlier studies of 1E 0102.2– 7219 concluded the blast was seen on Earth between 2000 and 1000 years prior to our time. This brand-new research study analyzed the 22 fastest knots within the nebula, discovering the nebula formed 1,700 years before our time.
Please be kind and rewind
By studying the cloud of gas and dust left behind, astronomers hope to piece together the story of the eruption that produced this stunning nebula.
Tracing back the paths of these tadpole-shaped, oxygen-rich, clumps of material in the nebula allowed astronomers to close in on this brand-new age quote. Ionized oxygen is often used as a tracer because it shines most brightly in visible light.
“The presumed neutron star was identified in observations with the European Southern Observatorys Very Large Telescope in Chile, in combination with data from NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory,” The Hubble Team reports.
The neutron star (most likely) left by the explosion was also seen racing away from the center of the blast at more than three million KPH (1.86 million MPH).
“That is pretty fast and at the extreme end of how quick we believe a neutron star can be moving, even if it got a kick from the supernova surge. More recent examinations bring into question whether the item is really the surviving neutron star of the supernova explosion … Our study doesnt solve the mystery, but it offers a quote of the velocity for the candidate neutron star,” John Banovetz of Purdue University stated.
View our interview with UC Boulder astronomer Dr. Allison Youngblood, speaking about her work utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope. (Video credit: The Cosmic Companion)Researchers found lots of knots within the nebula had actually previously knocked into the product ejected from the star prior to the explosion. These collisions decreased some clumps, impacting earlier observations.
“A previous study compared images taken years apart with two various cams on Hubble, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). However our study compares data taken with the very same camera, the ACS, making the comparison much more robust; the knots were a lot easier to track utilizing the exact same instrument. Its a testimony to the durability of Hubble that we could do such a tidy comparison of images taken 10 years apart,” Danny Milisavljevic of Purdue University explains.
Around the year 320, the Roman Empire was crumbling, and science was declined by a big percentage of the population. Border skirmishes, political assassinations, civil wars, and barbarian attacks consumed away at the once-mighty empire.
It may be a good thing individuals in the Northern Hemisphere might not see the “new star.” Who knows how such an “prophecy” would have impacted history?