(ORDO NEWS) — The story of the supernova remnant captured in this Hubble image begins about 165,000 years ago when an unnamed class O star in the Large Magellanic Cloud exploded as a Type II supernova.
The supernova remnant took on a familiar shape: a beautiful glowing cloud of expanding gas surrounding a super-dense and rapidly spinning neutron star with a powerful magnetic field.
The remnant was cataloged by Carl Henize in 1956 as part of a study of emission nebulae in the Magellanic Clouds.
It was named N49 (LMC N49), and was recognized as a powerful radio transmitter. N49 is still the brightest supernova remnant in the Large Magellanic Cloud to this day.
On March 5, 1979, all nine spacecraft of the interplanetary network of gamma-ray bursts detected a historically powerful gamma-ray burst.
The source was quickly identified as N49, which at that time was only suspected of such pranks. The term “pulsar” was not appropriate for N49.
This and other similar events prompted scientists to study soft gamma ray repeaters and eventually create the “magnetar” classification in 1992.
The Hubble Space Telescope first photographed N49 between November 1998 and July 2000.
Three images in the classic Hubble palette red for sulfur, blue for oxygen, and green for hydrogen were taken with the Wide Angle Planetary Camera 2 and superimposed on a black and white base image also taken by Hubble.
The composite image has been used in research mainly aimed at better understanding the structure of the nebula and the environment.
N49 has at least 26 other identifiers in different directories. The most common pseudonym in the press is DEM L 190.
The remnant has been photographed by telescopes such as ROSAT, Chandra, and Spitzer, and even mentioned in a book by Carl Sagan.
The singularity of the remnant lies not only in its brightness and powerful electromagnetic bursts, but also in its asymmetry.
Finding out why and how random stellar remnants become so erratic will help to more fully understand the life cycles of stars.
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