• The Chandra X-ray telescope was able to photograph the youngest supernova remnant in the galaxy
  • The supernova remnant is still expanding and interacting with its surroundings
  • The stellar explosion may have been caused by the collision between two white dwarf stars

NASA recently shared a mesmerizing photo of the youngest supernova remnant in the Milky Way galaxy. Despite happening thousands of years ago, the agency noted that the supernova remnant is still expanding and interacting with its surroundings.

The photo shared by the agency was captured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. It features the supernova remnant known as G1.9+0.3. It lies in the Sagittarius constellation and is about 27,700 light-years from Earth.

G1.9+0.3 is officially classified as a Type Ia supernova. This means that the massive stellar explosion occurred in a binary star system. In this type of supernova events, one of the stars that caused the explosion is a white dwarf.

“Most scientists agree that Type Ia supernovas occur when white dwarfs, the dense remnants of Sun-like stars that have run out of fuel, explode,” NASA explained in a statement. “However, there has been a debate over what triggers these white dwarf explosions.”

NASA noted that G1.9+0.3 is still growing. This is characterized by its expanding shockwave that was caused by a powerful stellar explosion. Currently, the supernova remnant measures about 10 light-years across.

To determine the cause behind G1.9+0.3’s explosion, researchers used the data collected by Chandra to understand how the supernova event interacts with its surroundings. By studying the emissions of the supernova remnant as well as the interaction between the expanding explosion and the surrounding gas and dust, researchers were able to narrow down the cause of the event.

According to researchers, it is possible that the supernova event was triggered by the collision of white dwarf stars that occurred after they got locked into each other’s’ orbit. Eventually, the two stars spiraled inward and collided with one another.

It is also possible that the supernova event was caused by a combination of a collision and absorption of materials from a nearby star.

“This result implies that Type Ia supernovas are either all caused by white dwarf collisions, or are caused by a mixture of white dwarf collisions and the mechanism where the white dwarf pulls material from a companion star,” NASA stated.

G1.9+0.3 is the remains of a star that exploded around the turn of the 20th century in Earth's time frame. NASA/CXC/CfA/S.Chakraborti et al.