Milky Way’s Hidden Supernova Revealed by JWST

In 1604, a supernova appeared to sky watchers on Earth between the constellations Ophiuchus and Sagittarius. Known as Kepler’s supernova, on October 17, 1604, it formed a magnificent „castle” consisting of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

debt: Sterlarium/Inforum

No Since 1604 Human eyes have seen a supernova directly.

NASA Kepler's supernova remnant Spitzer

In 1604, the last naked-eye supernova to occur in the Milky Way galaxy took place, today known as Kepler’s supernova. Although the supernova disappeared from the naked eye in 1605, its remnant remains visible today, shown here in an X-ray/optical/infrared composite. The bright yellow „lines” are the only component still visible in optics more than 400 years later.

debt: NASA, R. Sankrit (NASA Ames) and WP Blair (Johns Hopkins Univ.)

However, two Milky Way supernovae occurred later.


This image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the location of various elements in the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, including silicon (red), sulfur (yellow), calcium (green) and iron (purple). Elements (above). A supernova ejects the heavier elements created in the remnant explosion back into the universe. Although it is not shown here, the ratio of U-235 to U-238 in supernovae is approximately 1.6:1, indicating that the Earth was most likely born from an ancient, recently formed source of uranium.


Cassiopeia a A central collapse supernova in the galactic plane occurred between 1667-1680.

The supernova remnant seen in Chandra's X-rays is G1.9+0.3

This X-ray image, taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows the remnant of supernova G1.9+0.3 seen near the center of the galaxy in our own Milky Way. Estimates of its age place its origin at around 1868, making it the youngest known supernova remnant within the Milky Way.

debt: NASA/CXC/NCSU/K.Borkowski et al.

G1.9+0.3Occurred in 1868, near the center of the galaxy.

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Cassiopeia is a supernova radio remnant

Between 1667 and 1680, a central collapse supernova occurred in the Cassiopeia constellation, between 9000 and 11000 light-years away. First detected in radio light in 1947, this VLA image maps the radio emission from this supernova remnant.

debt: Credit: Image composition by L. Rudnick, T. Delaney, J. Keohane & B. Koralesky, T. Rector

Only discovered in 1947, Cassiopeia A is the brightest radio source beyond our solar system.

Cassiopeia is a supernova remnant visible to Hubble

Shown here in optical light captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, the supernova remnant from the Cassiopeia A event appears to be just a few tiny strands of light coming from this part of the sky. In fact, a variety of light is emitted from this region of space, but only a small portion of it is still in the visible light region of the spectrum. Infrared, radio and X-ray spectra are the most revealing.

debt: NASA, ESA and Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Credit: Robert A. Fesson (Dartmouth College, USA) and James Long (ESA/Hubble)

In visible light, there is little to see: like a fast-fading firework.

Elements Cas A residue Chandra X-ray

This image of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant shows the aftermath of a Type II, core-collapse supernova that occurred 350 years ago. The supernova remnant glows at various electromagnetic wavelengths, including various X-ray bands, as shown here. Color-coding reveals the diversity of underlying elemental signatures.

debt: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In X-ray light, its hot gases glow brilliantly.

NASA's nebula, JWST Cas A, is multi-colored.

This 2008 image released by NASA’s Spitzer shows not only the supernova remnant of Cassiopeia A in infrared light, but also highlights three regions of color where light from the supernova reflects off the ejecta and now reaches our Solar System. . These light-echoes illuminate different regions of gas and dust over time.

debt: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Y. Kim (University of Arizona/University of Chicago)

However, infrared views are more transparent, showing various components and turbulent knots.

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JWST Supernova Remnant Gas A NIRCam

Data from JWST’s NIRCam observations of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, first released on November 5, 2023, were then stitched together using several photometric filters to create a stunning view of the nebula in infrared light.

debt: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/j. Roger

till the end, Comments by JWSTWith both NIRCam And MIRIThere are Now public.

JWST MIRI Cass Cassiopeia is a supernova remnant

This image was taken with JWST’s MIRI instrument, and reveals never-before-seen detail inside Cassiopeia A’s supernova remnant. End-to-end, this image corresponds to Cassiopeia A’s distance of about 10 light-years, indicating how fast it is. Its meaning expands.

debt: NASA, ESA, CSA, Danny Milisavljevic (Purdue University), Tee Temim (Princeton University), Ilse De Looze (UGent); Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

Only ~350 years old, remains Already across 10 light years.

A NIRCam profile of the JWST supernova remnant

This detailed section of JWST’s NIRCam view of the supernova remnant in Cassiopeia A shows a dense gas filament powered by ejection from the supernova, with sparse, hot material showing bubbles and cavities after the blast wave has passed.

debt: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/j. Roger

„Shell” of Ejecta 1.5% expansion at the speed of lightJets reach almost ~5% of the speed of light.

JWST MIRI Cassiopeia is a supernova remnant profile

At the top-right of the image, the sweeps of material point in different directions, revealing various aspects of the low-temperature material ejected from the supernova, as well as from pre-supernova ambient material. Bright, knotty filaments and bubbles thrown into the remnant gas are all highlighted in this MIRI view of the detail of this supernova remnant.

debt: NASA, ESA, CSA, Danny Milisavljevic (Purdue University), Tee Temim (Princeton University), Ilse De Looze (UGent); Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

Locally, „bubbles” appear, providing evidence of this Basic form of gas distribution.

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NASA image of the JWST Cass A nebula.

As seen in both NIRCam (monochrome) and MIRI (color), the interior of Cassiopeia A’s supernova remnant looks like tiny „bubbles.” These bubbles indicate the shape of the gas. The interior is either empty or too dense for heat to penetrate the interior of the bubbles.

Loans: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI; MIRI and NIRCam teams

Incredibly bright near-infrared regions highlight dense filaments of hot material.

NASA image of JWST Cas A, supernova remnant showing stars and nebula.

This NIRCam profile of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A represents the highest resolution view of these gaseous features in the infrared ever taken. There is a temperature gradient across these filaments, characterized by different colors, with dense nodules separated by sparsely populated cavities.

debt: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/j. Roger

The layers of the exploding star are now colliding with the surrounding atmospheric material.

A NIRCam detail of the JWST supernova remnant gas wisp edge

The thin gas at the edge of the supernova remnant shows what appear to be „streaks” of material, evidence that the supernova ejecta plowed through atmospheric material ejected long before the supernova event. These features help astronomers measure the speed of the outflow and determine how long the object has been expanding.

debt: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/j. Roger

Explosive discharge Reveals many elements: They contain oxygen, neon, argon, calcium and phosphorus.

Gauss is an X-ray element separator

By looking for specific spectral signatures, different components can be revealed at different wavelengths of light. Here, Chandra X-ray data are used to identify the different elements, where color-coded iron (orange), oxygen (violet), titanium (light blue, seen by Nustar) and silicon-versus-magnesium (green) are indicated. .

debt: Chandra: NASA/CXC/RIKEN/T. Sato et al.; Nustar: NASA/Nustar; Hubble: NASA/STScI

Mid-infrared „wisps” provide clues to how collapsing stars eject material.

JWST MIRI Cassiopeia is a supernova remnant data center

Near the center of the JWST MIRI view of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, all the different features are abundant. At upper left, bright, knotted gas filaments appear. At right, diffuse streams of gas are trapped by the pressure of the supernova’s ejecta. The dark, gas-rich regions in the upper-right and lower parts of the image (especially the lower-left) appear opaque even to MIRI views. There is much more science to be extracted from these images.

debt: NASA, ESA, CSA, Danny Milisavljevic (Purdue University), Tee Temim (Princeton University), Ilse De Looze (UGent); Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

with Hydrogen is lowThis shows how diverse supernovae can be.

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