Death Becomes Her

Cassiopeia A is among the best-studied supernova remnants. This image blends data from NASA's Spitzer (red), Hubble (yellow), and Chandra (green and blue) observatories. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAO

This stunning image shows off the many sides of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, which is made up of images taken by three of NASA’s Great Observatories, using three different wavebands of light. Infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope are colored red; visible data from the Hubble Space Telescope are yellow; and X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are green and blue.

Located 10,000 light-years away in the northern constellation Cassiopeia, Cassiopeia A is the remnant of a once massive star that died in a violent supernova explosion 325 years ago. It consists of a dead star, called a neutron star, and a surrounding shell of material that was blasted off as the star died. The neutron star can be seen in the Chandra data as a sharp turquoise dot in the center of the shimmering shell.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAO

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To find your way around in the night sky, I have included a wikiHow sky chart,

But finding Cassiopeia doesn’t do much good if you don’t know the myth behind the constellation. The Roman myth has multiple variations, but goes something like this: The ancient Ethiopian queen Cassiopeia thought she was more beautiful than all sea nymphs, especially the daughter of Poseidon, god of the sea. To punish her for her arrogance, Poseidon chained Cassiopeia’s daughter, Andromeda, to a rock on the coast as an offering to a sea monster. Andromeda was saved, but Cassiopeia was banned to the sky, hanging half of the time with her head downward, signifying her eternal humility.

Cassiopeia the Queen is one of the major autumn constellations.

Credit: wikiHow



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