An international team of astronomers has obtained the first image of a supernova, whose explosion was described by Chinese observers in 185 AD.
According to Phys.org, the image shows what is left of a white dwarf that exploded more than 1,800 years ago. This event was observed in China in 185 and was described by ancient astronomers as a “guest star.” From ancient written sources it follows that an “alien” star suddenly burst in the sky and remained visible to the naked eye for almost eight months.
Previously, astronomers carefully studied ancient works and found traces of the event described in them. Previous studies have shown that Chinese astronomers observed a supernova explosion, which is now called SN 185. The explosion occurred at a distance of more than 8,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of Alpha Centauri. As a result of a space disaster, a structure was formed that received the designation RCW 86.
It was this structure, formed immediately after the explosion, that scientists managed to get. This was done using the DECam dark energy camera installed on the four-meter Victor M. Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The wide-angle camera’s capabilities have also allowed astronomers to track how supernova remnants have evolved over the past 1,800 years.
Scientists have discovered that a white dwarf in a binary star system has absorbed material from its companion star. Its dust winds literally pushed surrounding gas and dust outward, creating the cavity seen in the resulting image. The white dwarf could not withstand the load – the mass of material that fell on it from the companion star turned out to be so large that the white dwarf exploded. The remains of the star were scattered throughout the previously formed cavity. The result is a monumental structure that has been photographed today.