Supernova Remnant

RCW 103

Image exposure:
64.5 minutes
Image field of view:
19.7 x 12.6 arcmin
Image date:

Ten thousand years light years away, deep in the rich star clouds of the Southern Milky Way, in the constellation of Norma*, a high-mass star ran out of nuclear fuel.

It’s core collapsed and the star exploded. It was a type II supernova.

The light first reached us two thousand years ago. No, dear reader, it wasn’t the so-called star of Bethlehem.

This supernova remnant, which we call RCW 103 and we now see as a 2,000 year old object, is now dissipating and is all that remains of the original star to tell us about the event . . . .

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. . . well, not quite.

At its heart lies a neutron star catalogued as 1E 161348-5055, the remains of the original star which went supernova. It is a dense and unusual periodic X-ray source with a period of 6.67 hours.

Dense because neutron stars have a mass of about 1.4 solar masses squeezed into a diameter of only about of 20 kilometres. Unusual because it seems to be rotating too fast for a neutron star so young. Astronomers like a puzzle.

*The Norma constellation was not named after an astronomer’s lady friend. It was named after a carpenter’s square.

Telescope:Meade LX-90 200mm Schmidt-Cassegrain
(deforked); 2000 mm f/l @ f/10.
Optics:Astronomik light pollution filter.
Mount & Guiding:SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount.
Imaging camera:ZWO ASI 071 MC cooled.

Images © Roger Powell 🙃

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