July 13th, 2009


Cassiopeia: A supernova remnant

I got a marvelous commission to make a super nova remnant as a pendant for Patrick Young . He's an astronomer and this is area of research.

We talked about it at Westercon and then he sent me information and photograph links. I'm really excited.

Patrick said:
Cas A is a supernova remnant about 11,000 light years away. The progenitor of Cas A was a star of about 15 times the mass of the sun in a binary system with a smaller companion. The companion stripped it of its outer atmosphere shortly before it ran out of fuel and exploded. The light from the explosion reached earth in 1680. After 330 years of expansion the nebula is about 10 light years across. Most of the material we see is heavy elements from oxygen through iron on the periodic table that were produced in the interior of the star or the explosion. My research has primarily been on what kind of star exploded, and how the explosion produced and distributed the elements as we now see them.

The pendant will be silver with a few small faceted precious stones and a couple of opal fragments.  Carving the wax to create negative space that's almost there is going to be interesting.

This is one of the photos I'll be working with.

This is an optical image from the Hubble space telescope. The colors here are fairly close to real. The green is the emission from ionized oxygen. Red is from sulfur, and blue is from nitrogen. Most of the object doesn't show up in optical light because it is too hot.

This is another

This is a composite of x-ray data (blue and green) from Chandra, optical from Hubble (yellow), and infrared from the Spitzer space telescope (red). The last is mostly warm dust and emission from diffuse gas. This image is probably the best one to work from. The very blue point just to the left and below center is the neutron star left over from the explosion.

You can see why I'm excited about this.

Mood:  Astronomical