Date: 14 Nov 2006
According to observations by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes, the supernova SN 2006gy is the brightest and most energetic stellar explosion ever recorded and may be a long-sought new type of explosion.
This artist's illustration shows what SN 2006gy may have looked like if viewed at a close distance. The fireworks-like material in white shows the explosion of an extremely massive star. This debris is pushing back two lobes of cool, red gas that were expelled in a large eruption from the star before it exploded. The green, blue and yellow regions in these lobes shows where gas is being heated in a shock front as the explosion material crashes into it and pushes it backwards. Most of the optical light generated by the supernova is thought to come from debris that has been heated by radioactivity, but some likely comes from the shocked gas.
Last Update: 11 Apr 2011 (AMB)
Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/UC Berkeley/N.Smith et al. IR: Lick/UC Berkeley/J.Bloom & C.Hansen