Wednesday 7 December 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook SN 185 AD

SN 185 AD

Supernova (SN) are pretty rare, however one did appear in our galaxy and was first sighted on December 7th 185. The SN appeared between the constellations of Centaurus and Circinus.

SN 185 was close to alpha Centaurus right on the border with Circinus 

The Chinese have astronomical records going back several thousand years and are usually reliable. The Chinese astronomers described a ‘Guest Star’ which was visible for 8 months. It was reported as follows:- In the 2nd year of the epoch Zhongping on the day Kwei Hae [December 7], a strange star appeared in the middle of Nan Mun [asterism containing Alpha Centauri], It was like a large bamboo mat. It displayed the five colours, both pleasing and otherwise.

The gaseous shell RCW 86 is probably the supernova remnant of this event and is about 9,000 light-years away. This is the earliest record we have of a star destroying itself in a supernova explosion.

RCW 86

Using information from the Chandra satellite astronomers believe that the supernova was similar to the one that Tycho saw in 1572 and became about as bright at magnitude -4.0.

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