NASA has surpassed itself with its latest ‘Image of the Day’.
The image you’re looking at is the supernova remanent of Cassiopeia A (Cas A), a star that exploded with almost unimaginable force during the late 17th Century.
More importantly though, the startling colours and patterns also serve a far more vital purpose because what you’re also looking at is the essential ingredient list for life.
When you hear the phrase ‘We are all made of stars’ it is these images to which the line refers.
This stunningly clear image courtesy of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals not only the sheer beauty of a supernova explosion but even helps us see clearly the elements that are created.
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Red - Silicon
Yellow - Sulphur
Green - Calcium
Purple - Iron
The amount of these materials that’s then expelled is absolutely staggering. When Cas A exploded it created 10,000 Earth masses worth of sulphur, 20,000 Earth masses of silicon, 70,000 Earth masses of iron and finally an unimaginable million Earth masses of oxygen.
That last point is important because we now know that all the oxygen in the universe is produced from exploding stars. That means the oxygen you’re breathing right now was created from one of the universe’s largest explosions.
Experts believe that Cas A exploded around 1680, and started life with a mass that was around 16 times that of our own Sun.