This week’s satellite photo appears to be an artist’s impression of a perfect spiral galaxy, but it’s actually a galaxy located 250 million light-years from Earth.
Many spiral galaxies in the universe have been damaged or distorted by collisions with other galaxies. This does not apply to NGC 634. The spiral arms of this galactic giant are not affected by external factors. Unfortunately, these spiral arms are not clearly visible from Earth. This is because from our home planet we see the spiral galaxy from the side, not from above.
A bombing incident in 2008
In 2008, the whole world was watching NGC 634. Then a white dwarf star exploded in this galaxy. This type Ia supernova – SN2008a – was temporarily visible as the entire galaxy. The exploding star was radiating a billion times more energy than our sun in a short time. However, vision quickly declined after that. This week’s satellite image was taken a year and a half after the supernova exploded, but even the Hubble Telescope can no longer detect the supernova.
How does a type Ia supernova form?
This type of supernova occurs in close binary star systems in which one star is a white dwarf and the other a red giant (or a second white dwarf). The prevailing theory is that the white dwarf gets matter from its companion star. A process that eventually leads to an explosion. But whether this is true, researchers can’t stop talking about it.
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