Podcaster: Richard Drumm
Title: Space Scoop: Sweeping Supernovas Clean Up The Cosmos
Organization: Astrosphere New Media
Description: Space scoop, news for children.
Bio: Richard Drumm is President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and President of 3D – Drumm Digital Design, a video production company with clients such as Kodak, Xerox and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He was an observer with the UVa Parallax Program at McCormick Observatory in 1981 & 1982. He has found that his greatest passion in life is public outreach astronomy and he pursues it at every opportunity.
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This is 365 Days of Astronomy. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.
Today’s story is…Sweeping Supernovas Clean Up The Cosmos
Supernovas are the spectacular ends to the lives of many massive stars. They are explosions that produce enormous amounts of energy and can shine as bright as an entire galaxy made up of billions of stars!
These events are very important because the remains of the shattered star are hurled into space. This material goes on to form new stars, planets and moons — in fact, both you and I are made of supernova material! The iron in our blood and the calcium in our bones owe their existance to a star that has gone supernova.
As these clouds of leftover star material (called “supernova remnants”) expand, they sweep up all the material they encounter and carry it along with them.
The space photograph in the album artwork for today’s episode shows a 2,200-year-old supernova remnant that is sweeping up a remarkable amount of material — enough to make 45 Suns! The picture shows the supernova remnant in blue while the cosmic dust is shown in pink.
The impressive amount of material swept up by this remnant may be the first clue that something special happened to this star before it exploded.
Another clue is the temperature of the remnant, which is unusually hot and still shining in the high-energy light which we call X-rays. With 2,200 years having passed since the supernova explosion, the gas and dust it swept up should have cooled much more.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to watch this space to find out the cause for these oddities, as scientists are still trying to figure it out themselves!
Cool Fact: The last supernova observed in the Milky Way was Kepler’s Star back in 1604 (known to astronomers as SN 1604). There almost certainly have been other supernovae, but their light was hidden from our view by the dust lanes of our galaxy. You can see these dark stripes if you look at the summertime Milky Way.
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365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Astrosphere New Media. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. In the new year the 365 Days of Astronomy project will be something different than before….Until then…goodbye