James Webb Space Telescope captures stunning view of exploded star Cassiopeia A

The near-infrared camera (NIRCam) of the James Webb Space Telescope unveils intricate details of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A). NASA/ESA released the high-resolution image of it on December 11, 2023.

The supernova remnant Cas A is located about 11,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. It spans about 10 light-years across. It’s estimated that the star Cas A exploded about 340 years ago. One light-year is equal to about 9.46 trillion kilometers.

When a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel at the end of its life, it goes through a violent explosion, called a supernova explosion. The core of this dead star becomes a black hole or neutron star, and the blown-away material due to the explosion becomes a supernova remnant.

Webb's view of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A through NIRCam
View larger. Webb’s view of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A through NIRCam. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, D. Milisavljevic (Purdue University), T. Temim (Princeton University), I. De Looze (University of Gent))

Here the complex shell-like structure of the supernova remnant Cas A is seen, which is made of a cloud of gas and dust.

The high-resolution Near-Infrared Camera of James Webb Space Telescope captures the  bright orange and light pink colors of the shell. The camera detects the tiniest knots of gas, composed of sulphur, oxygen, argon, and neon from the star itself.

Various stars are seen around and within the supernova remnant Cas A. The supernova remnant material eventually becomes a part of new stars and planetary systems.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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