NASA has released a new video showing a decade-long shift in the supernova Cassiopeia A. The agency says the video provides a rare opportunity to see a cosmic object evolve in a period with which humans can relate.
Cassiopeia A, also known as Cas A, is located around 11,000 light-years from Earth, according to NASA. It is the light remains of a massive star that exploded and died as fuel came down and collapsed under the weight of its own severity.
NASA used the images taken by its Chandra X-Ray Observatory between 2000 and 2013 for the short video. The agency also took some images from its other observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope. The video was broadcast via NASA’s Chandra website.
As NASA reports, it is a rare opportunity to see how a cosmic body evolves over 13 years as such events usually take hundreds to thousands of years.
“The video shows Chandra’s 2000 to 2013 observations of Cas A. A child could then enter the kindergarten and a high school graduate, “said NASA. “Although a student’s transition may not be as evident during the same period, it is fascinating to watch a celestial entity change in human time scales.”
In this image, Cas A’s creation is characterized by its expanding blue exterior region, the shock wave of the initial explosion of the star. When the shock wave moves quickly through space, it interacts with other cosmic materials.
The interaction creates a second shock wave moving in the opposite direction to the first. The second shock wave, the same color as the first, travels from the surface to the center of the supernova.
“When the blast wave travels outside at speeds of about 11 million miles an hour, it hits and slows down nearby objects, creating a second shock wave — known as a” reverse shock”— that goes backward, like how a traffic jam goes from a highway accident scene backward,” NASA explained.