A mystery that began nearly 2,000 years ago, when Chinese astronomers witnessed what would turn out to be an exploding star in the sky, has been solved. New infrared observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, reveal how the first supernova ever recorded occurred and how its shattered remains ultimately spread out to great distances.

The findings show that the stellar explosion took place in a hollowed-out cavity, allowing material expelled by the star to travel much faster and farther than it would have otherwise.

“This supernova remnant got really big, really fast,” said Brian J. Williams, an astronomer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Williams is lead author of a new study detailing the findings online in the Astrophysical Journal. “It’s two to three times bigger than we would expect for a supernova that was witnessed exploding nearly 2,000 years ago. Now, we’ve been able to finally pinpoint the cause.”

Details, images, here.


  1. #1 Lou Jost
    October 24, 2011

    OK so what kind of explanation is that??? What the heck is a “hollowed-out cavity” in space???

  2. #2 Robert S
    October 24, 2011

    Lou, that little bit of crimson text at the bottom of the post is a link, click it, read, and get your answer.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    October 24, 2011

    NASA gives me 10 dollars for every click through.

  4. #4 https://me.yahoo.com/a/PxckwTE5h.aX2IKVBbVpSwG7pnzF1A--#8e772
    October 24, 2011

    What? NASA is claiming to have found the relic of the Star of Bethlehem? I guess the American space industry is really dead.

    Greg, you don’t believe that article, do you?

  5. #5 Robert S
    October 25, 2011

    Yahoomess @4: Did you “read” the article and fail reading for comprehension? Or do you somehow think logged observations in 185 CE = ‘Star of Bethlehem’, somehow.

    Even I know that I should at least glance at something before claiming it is stupid.