This Supernova Holds a Surprise, and NASA Calls Off Satellite Launch Again
Cas A

Even one of the most studied supernova remnants still holds surprises. And, NASA scrubbed the launch of its soil studying satellite again.

Supernova’s Surprising Interior

Cassiopeia A, better known as Cas A, has been studied extensively. Yet, it still has a few surprises left. Astronomers at Harvard-Smithsonian and Dartmouth College have created a new 3-D map of the remnant’s interior. They basically gave the supernova remnant the space version of a CAT scan. The astronomers found the interior of Cas A has a collection of about 6 massive cavities, or ‘bubbles.’

“Our three-dimensional map is a rare look at the insides of an exploded star, says Dan Milisavljevic of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

More than 300 years ago, a massive star exploded in the constellation Cassiopeia. When a massive star goes supernova, massive amounts of hot and radioactive matter stream away from the star’s core. The physics behind this massive explosion is still difficult to model. Even with today’s most powerful computers.

But, astronomers are able to study some of the key processes behind these enormous explosions.

“We’re sort of like bomb squad investigators. We examine the debris to learn what blew up and how it blew up,” explains Milisavljevic. “Our study represents a major step forward in our understanding of how stars actually explode.”

The team of astronomers compare the cavity arrangement to a Swiss-cheese like structure. Milisavljevic and his team believe the ‘bubble-like’ cavities were created by radioactive nickel formed from the supernova explosion. This nickel would then decay to form iron. Future telescopes will be on the lookout for this iron and can then confirm the origin of these cavities.

Check out a 3-D interactive map of Cas A here.

The Launch of NASA’s Soil Observing Satellite Has Been Delayed Again

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory can’t seem to get off the ground. The satellite’s launch was delayed again today. Inspections following yesterday’s attempt found ‘debonds’ on the booster insulation. Minor repairs are being conducted today to fix the issue.

Officials will attempt to launch the satellite again on Saturday at 9:20 am EST.

Weather at Vandenberg AFB in California is expected to be clear again tomorrow with light winds.

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