KEY POINTS

  • NASA shared an image of a supernova remnant captured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory
  • The massive cosmic structure was created by a Type Ia supernova
  • The supernova remnant is the brightest stellar event ever recorded

NASA recently shared a stunning image of what is believed to be the brightest supernova remnant ever discovered. This massive cosmic object is so bright that historical records indicate that it was widely observed from Earth thousands of years ago.

The photo of the supernova remnant, identified as SN 1006, was captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory. Using the observatory’s multiple fields of view, NASA was able to present a remarkable image that shows off the various infrared wavelengths present in the supernova remnant.

According to NASA, the massive cosmic structure, which is about 7,200 light-years away from Earth, was created by an explosion of a white dwarf star. The explosion was categorized as a Type Ia supernova, which means it occurred within a binary star system.

It is possible that the white dwarf may have exploded after absorbing the mass of a nearby star. Another theory suggests that the white dwarf may have merged with another star, resulting in a massive collision and explosion.

As noted by NASA, SN 1006 first appeared on May 1, 1006 A.D. It was studied and observed by ancient astronomers from various countries such as Egypt, Japan, Iraq and China. Exceeding the brightness of Venus by 16 times, the supernova remnant was regarded as the brightest stellar event ever recorded in history.

In a study previously published in Astronomical Notes, a team of researchers was able to uncover another historical record of SN 1006. It was made by a scholar named Ibn Sina who lived from 980 to 1037.

According to the researchers, Ibn Sina’s book “Kitab al-Shifa” described a cosmic object that displayed different colors and spewed out sparks as it started to fade away. Lead researcher Ralph Neuhauser said that Ibn Sina may have witnessed the stellar event while he was living in southern Uzbekistan. He also noted that the scholar’s description of the supernova remnant’s changing colors was not mentioned in other historical accounts of the stellar event.

“It is special that he mentions a color evolution, which is not mentioned by the others,” he said in a statement, according to National Geographic.