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X-ray image of supernova remnant E0102-72 from Chandra

X-ray image of supernova remnant E0102-72 from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.


The ions that you found all have only one or two electrons left. These are called hydrogen-like and helium-like ions, since, like hydrogen and helium, they have only one or two electrons orbiting the nucleus.

These ions are very different from anything we would find on Earth. They are likely generated by very hot gas, greater than 106 Kelvin, the temperature of the Sun's corona. This heat energy must come from what is left over from the supernova. Estimates for the age of this supernova remnant come from observations of its expansion rate, and are in the range of 1000-2000 years. Thus, it takes a supernova a very long time to cool off.

In this supernova remnant, we are seeing an incredible amount of oxygen, neon, and magnesium (you should have found that your three emission lines were O6+, Ne9+ and Ne8+; you did not fit the magnesium line, but can clearly see it in the data at about 1.35 keV). As discussed in the SNR Profile, these elements were made inside a star. Now that the star has exploded, those elements are being spread into interstellar space surrounding the supernova remnant in the Small Magellanic Cloud. This is the process by which the elements we are made of were originally produced.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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