About the Object

Name: Cas A
Distance: 11090 light years
Constellation: Cassiopeia
Category: Nebulae


Position (RA):23 23 23.94
Position (Dec):58° 48' 54.19"
Field of view:6.09 x 6.97 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 27.2° right of vertical

Colours & filters

Infrared 1.62 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
Infrared 3.56 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
Infrared 4.44 μmJames Webb Space Telescope

Cas A (NIRCam image)

A new high-definition image from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) unveils intricate details of supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A), and shows the expanding shell of material slamming into the gas shed by the star before it exploded.

The most noticeable colours in Webb’s newest image are clumps of bright orange and light pink that make up the inner shell of the supernova remnant. These tiny knots of gas, composed of sulphur, oxygen, argon, and neon from the star itself, are only detectable thanks to NIRCam’s exquisite resolution, and give researchers a hint at how the dying star shattered like glass when it exploded.

The outskirts of the main inner shell look like smoke from a campfire. This marks where ejected material from the exploded star is ramming into surrounding circumstellar material. Researchers have concluded that this white colour is light from synchrotron radiation, which is generated by charged particles travelling at extremely high speeds and spiralling around magnetic field lines.

There are also several light echoes visible in this image, most notably in the bottom right corner. This is where light from the star’s long-ago explosion has reached, and is warming, distant dust, which glows as it cools down.

[Image description: A roughly circular cloud of gas and dust with complex structure. The inner shell is made of bright pink and orange filaments studded with clumps and knots that look like tiny pieces of shattered glass. Around the exterior of the inner shell, there are curtains of wispy gas that look like campfire smoke. Around and within the nebula, various stars are seen as points of blue and white light. Outside the nebula, there are also clumps of dust, coloured yellow in the image.]


NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, D. Milisavljevic (Purdue University), T. Temim (Princeton University), I. De Looze (University of Gent)

About the Image

Id: weic2330a
Type: Observation
Release date: 11 December 2023, 02:00
Related releases: weic2330
Size: 11694 x 13392 px

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