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Chandra X-ray Image of N49B
(Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al.)

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SNR 0103-72.6
SNR 0103-72.6
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Supernova Remnant Reveals Magnesium in Abundance

Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al.

The Chandra image of N49B (left), the remains of an exploded star, shows a cloud of multimillion degree gas that has been expanding for about 10,000 years. A specially processed version of this image (right) reveals unexpectedly large concentrations of the element magnesium (blue-green).

Magnesium, created deep inside the star and ejected in the supernova explosion, is usually associated with correspondingly high concentrations of oxygen. However, the Chandra data indicate that the amount of oxygen in N49B is not exceptional. This poses a puzzle as to how the excess magnesium was created, or, alternatively, how the excess oxygen has escaped detection.

The amount of magnesium in N49B is estimated to be about equal to the total mass of the Sun. Since the Sun contains only about 0.1% of magnesium by mass, the total mass of magnesium N49B is about a thousand times that in the Sun and its planets.

Magnesium, the eighth most abundant material in the Earth's crust, is a mineral needed by every cell of our bodies. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, and bones strong. It is also involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Fortunately for us, and thanks to stars such as the one that produced N49B, there is an abundant supply of magnesium in the Universe.

Fast Facts for N49B:
Credit  NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al.
Scale  Image is 3.3 arcmin across.
Category  Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 05h 25m 26.04s | Dec -65° 59’ 06.90"
Constellation  Dorado
Observation Dates  September 15, 2001
Observation Time  8 hours
Obs. IDs  1041
Color Code  Energy (Left panel: Red 0.3-0.8keV, Green 0.8-1.5keV, Blue 1.5-3.0 keV; Right panel: Pink 0.3-3.0keV; Cyan/Blue = Mg)
Instrument  ACIS
Also Known As SNR 0525-66.0
References S. Park et al, 2003 Astrophys. J. 592, L41
Distance Estimate  160,000 light years
Release Date  March 24, 2004