The Dark Energy Camera Captures the Remains of an Ancient Supernova

The US DOE's DECam captured this image of the tattered shell of the first-ever recorded supernova. A ring of glowing debris is all that remains of a white dwarf star that exploded more than 1800 years ago and was recorded by Chinese astronomers as a ‘guest star’. This special image, which covers an impressive 45 arcminutes on the sky, gives a rare view of the entirety of this supernova remnant. Image Credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), J. Miller (Gemini Observatory/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)

The first written record of a supernova comes from Chinese astrologers in the year 185. Those records say a ‘guest star’ lit up the sky for about eight months. We now know that it was a supernova.

All that remains is a ring of debris named RCW 86, and astronomers working with the DECam (Dark Energy Camera) used it to examine the debris ring and the aftermath of the supernova.

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