New telescope image reveals ghostly remains of oldest supernova on record

A new image taken by the Dark Energy Camera has revealed the ghostly remains of the first-ever recorded supernova that occurred over 1,800 years ago. Chinese astronomers documented this rare event in the year 185 when they spotted a bright new light in the night sky, which they called a "guest star". This star was located some 8,000 light-years away, between the constellations of Circinus and Centaurus, and exploded into a supernova, which was visible for eight months before fading from view.

The remnants of this supernova, known today as SN 185, are now a ring of debris called RCW 86. In the recent image captured by the Víctor M. Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, we can see the glowing remains of the supernova in wispy strands that appear to float like clouds away from the ancient explosion.

This discovery is helping us understand how supernovas evolve, and it's fascinating to note that researchers now suspect that the supernova experienced an extremely high expansion velocity. This means that the ring structure could form in as little as about 2,000 years after its explosion, contrary to the previous belief that it would take around 10,000 years for such a structure to form.

Further research into X-ray data has also revealed that this supernova was a different type of stellar explosion that occurs within a pair of stars called a binary star system. This explosion has been dubbed a "Type la" supernova and occurred when a dense white dwarf star pulled material away from a companion star. When the star couldn't support the influx of material from its companion, the white dwarf exploded, resulting in the wispy strands seen in the new image.

It paints a new portrait of what happened in 185. This ephemeral addition to the night sky likely awed astronomers in the past

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Author`s name Petr Ernilin