Light Echo around SN 2014J in M82

Light from a supernova explosion in the nearby starburst galaxy Messier 82 is reverberating off a huge dust cloud in interstellar space. The supernova, called SN 2014J, occurred at the upper right of Messier 82, and is marked by an “X.” The supernova was discovered on 21 January 2014.

The inset images at the top reveal an expanding shell of light from the stellar explosion sweeping through interstellar space, called a “light echo.” The images were taken 10 months to nearly two years after the violent event (6 November 2014 to 12 October 2016). The light is bouncing off a giant dust cloud that extends 300 to 1600 light-years from the supernova and is being reflected toward Earth.

SN 2014J is classified as a Type Ia supernova and is the closest such blast in at least four decades. A Type Ia supernova occurs in a binary star system consisting of a burned-out white dwarf and a companion star. The white dwarf explodes after the companion dumps too much material onto it.

The image of Messier 82 reveals a bright blue disc, webs of shredded clouds, and fiery-looking plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out of its central regions. Close encounters with its larger neighbor, the spiral galaxy Messier 81, is compressing gas in Messier 82 and stoking the birth of multiple star clusters. Some of these stars live for only a short time and die in cataclysmic supernova blasts, as shown by SN 2014J.

Located about 11 million light-years away, Messier 82 appears high in the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. It is also called the “Cigar Galaxy” because of the elliptical shape produced by the oblique tilt of its starry disk relative to our line of sight.

The Messier 82 image was taken in 2006 using the Advanced Camera for Surveys. The inset images of the light echo also were taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys.



NASA, ESA, and Y. Yang (Texas A&M University and Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)
Acknowledgment: M. Mountain (AURA) and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:14 November 2017, 10:52
Size:8529 x 5686 px

About the Object

Name:SN 2014J
Type:Local Universe : Nebula : Appearance : Reflection : Light Echo
Distance:11 million light years

Image Formats

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