Wallpaper Wednesday

5 10 2011
Asymmetric Ashes

Asymmetric Ashes. Image courtesy: ESO

Today’s wallpaper shows an artist’s depiction of what the early stages of a Type Ia supernova might look like.  The image of the “exploding” star shows at its edges the asymmetrical shape of the resultant blast cloud. Using data gathered while making spectro-polarimetry observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the McDonald Observatory’s Otto Struve Telescope, astronomers have concluded that the varied composition of a white dwarf star would lead to an unevenly-shaped debris cloud, rather than a perfect blast sphere, during the supernova event.