The images at the top of this graphic represent two popular models describing how stars blast apart. The models point to different triggers of the explosion. Jet-driven models are illustrated with an artist's concept shown at left.
A massive star (left), which has created elements as heavy as iron in its interior, blows up in a tremendous explosion (middle), scattering its outer layers in a structure called a supernova remnant (right).
When astronomers first looked at images of a supernova remnant called Cassiopeia A, captured by NASA's NuSTAR. The mystery of Cassiopeia A (Cas A), a massive star that exploded in a supernova more than 11,000 years ago continues to confound scientists.
This is the first map of radioactivity in a supernova remnant, the blown-out bits and pieces of a massive star that exploded. The blue color shows radioactive material mapped in high-energy X-rays using NASA's NuSTAR.
Taken Under the 'Wing' of the Small Magellanic Cloud
The tip of the 'wing' of the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy is dazzling in this new view from NASA's Great Observatories. The SMC, is a small galaxy about 200,000 light-years way that orbits our own Milky Way spiral galaxy.
The spiral galaxy NGC 3627, located about 30 million light years from Earth as seen by four NASA telescopes; inset shows the central region, which contains a bright X-ray source that is likely powered by material falling onto a supermassive black hole.
This composite of 30 Doradus, the Tarantula Nebula, contains data from Chandra (blue), Hubble (green), and Spitzer (red). Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the Tarantula Nebula is one of the largest star-forming regions close to the Milky Way.
About 2,400 massive stars in the center of 30 Doradus, the Tarantula Nebula, produce intense radiation and powerful winds as they blow off material seen as infrared emission from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and X-rays from Chandra X-ray Observatory.
A composite image from NASA's Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes shows the dusty remains of a collapsed star, a supernova remnant called G54.1+0.3. The white source at the center is a dead star called a pulsar.
Great Observatories' Unique Views of the Milky Way
In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, NASA's Great Observatories -- Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory -- have produced a matched trio of images of the central region of our Milky Way.
This composite image, combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope shows the star-forming cloud Cepheus B, located in our Milky Way galaxy about 2,400 light years from Earth
For the first time, a multiwavelength three-dimensional reconstruction of a supernova remnant has been created. This visualization of Cassiopeia A, or Cas A, the result of an explosion approximately 330 years ago, uses data from several NASA telescopes.