Nasa is investigating a stunning ancient supernova “so old Shakespeare might have seen it” – there’s even a hint in one of his plays
NASA researchers have studied an ancient supernova so old Shakespeare may have seen it.
Using data from NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), scientists recently uncovered new information about the Tycho supernova.
Remnants of the exploded star are in the constellation of Cassiopeia, first seen on Earth in 1572.
The new Tycho results were published in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
Using IXPE, researchers were able for the first time to see the geometry of the magnetic fields near the supernova’s shock wave, Nasa revealed.
In fact, the shock wave from the initial explosion is still operative and has created a boundary around the ejected material.
Understanding this magnetic field geometry helps scientists further study how particles accelerate there.
“As one of the so-called historical supernovae, Tycho has been observed by mankind in the past and has had an enduring social and even artistic impact,” said Dr. Riccardo Ferrazzoli, a researcher at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome partners with NASA on the IXPE mission.
“It’s exciting to be here 450 years after it first appeared in the sky, to see this object again with new eyes and to learn from it,” added Ferrazzoli, who is also the study’s lead author.
One of those past people could be the famous playwright William Shakespeare, who would have been 8 years old at the time.
Moreover, Shakespeare may have described it in an early passage from Hamlet around the turn of the 17th century.
In the passage, Bernardo tells the soldiers of “that same star which lies to the west of the pole (Northern Star)” which appears just before the ghost of the murdered king.
In fact, this is the same direction from which the exploding supernova could have been seen.
The Tycho supernova
Classified as Type Ia, the Tycho supernova occurred when a white dwarf star in a binary star system destroyed its companion star.
This, in turn, captured part of its mass and caused a violent explosion.
NASA went on to explain, “The extinction of the white dwarf is sending debris into space at tremendous speeds.
“Such events are widely believed to be the source of most galactic cosmic rays found in space, including those continuously bombarding Earth’s atmosphere.”
https://www.the-sun.com/tech/7521783/nasa-probes-ancient-supernova-old-shakespeare/ Nasa is investigating a stunning ancient supernova “so old Shakespeare might have seen it” – there’s even a hint in one of his plays