Cassiopeia A

Cassiopeia A

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Credit: LARRY LANDOLFI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Composite photograph of Earth, a detail from Michelangelo's ''The Creation of Adam'', and Cassiopeia A, a remnant of a once massive star that died in a violent supernova explosion three hundred twenty-five years ago. The background image was taken by three of NASA's Great Observatories, using three different wavebands of light. Infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope are coloured 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 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 centre of the shimmering shell.

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