NASA has released a multi-wavelength view of RCW 86, the oldest recorded supernova explosion.
The spectacular image, which combines data captured by four telescopes, depicts the celestial event which Chinese astronomers witnessed in 185 AD. The mysterious phenomenon, termed as guest star, remained in the sky for eight months, they had noted.
X-ray input from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory were combined to create blue and green tinges in the visual which was compiled in October 2011. The X-rays show the interstellar gas heated to millions of degrees by shockwaves triggered by the supernova.
Depicted in yellow and red, the infrared data gathered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and WISE, Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer shows the dust emanating at a temperature of several hundred degrees below zero. But this trail of dust is still warmer than the normal dust in the Milky Way galaxy.
After analyzing the combined data, experts arrived at the conclusion that the cause of the explosion was a Type Ia supernova which pushed a dead star (or a white dwarf) beyond the brink of stability when another star dumped material onto its surface.
RCW 86 is located 8,000 light-years away from the Earth and has a diameter of about 85 light-years.
Photo: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO & ESA; Inf