Featured Image: A New Portrait of Cassiopeia A

Cassiopeia A is a much-photographed supernova remnant in the northern celestial hemisphere, and now, thanks to JWST, it has a stunning new portrait. Using data from JWST’s Near-Infrared Camera and Mid-Infrared Instrument, Jeonghee Rho (SETI Institute and Seoul National University) and collaborators crafted the three-color image shown above. The diffuse blue areas show the light emitted by electrons spiraling around magnetic field lines, while the more finely detailed red and green areas trace light from argon and carbon monoxide, respectively. Coupled with spectra of two dense knots of gas within the shell of the supernova remnant, these observations allowed Rho’s team to study the connections between the formation of molecules like carbon monoxide and the creation of cosmic dust. For more new images of Cassiopeia A, including some incredible closeups of filamentary gas, be sure to check out the full research article linked below!


“Shockingly Bright Warm Carbon Monoxide Molecular Features in the Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A Revealed by JWST,” J. Rho et al 2024 ApJL 969 L9. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ad5186