Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the supernova remnant N103B (also known as SNR 0509-68.7) is a fascinating object for astronomers to explore. Captured in this image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the orange-red filaments show the shock fronts of the explosion, which allow us to calculate the original centre of the explosion.
The filaments also indicate that the explosion is no longer expanding as a sphere, but is elliptical in shape. This could be due to part of the material ejected by the explosion hitting a denser cloud of interstellar material, which slowed its speed and thus resulted in an asymmetrical expansion. The gas in the lower half of the image and dense concentration of stars in the lower left are also believed to be part of NGC 1850, an associated star cluster which has been observed by Hubble before.
Studying supernovas such as N103B can provide with valuable information about stellar evolution, star formation, and how interstellar material affects star explosions and their aftermath. By studying the light coming from supernovae such as N103B, astronomers can learn more about its composition and structure. This can help them understand how stars evolve from their initial formation to their eventual demise.
But perhaps one of the most interesting things about supernova remnants is that they sometimes leave behind a stellar survivor — a neutron star or a black hole — which forms from the core of the star after it explodes. This stellar remnant could hold clues about the original star that created it, and if we can find one associated with N103B then it would be an incredible discovery for astronomers.
So far no stellar remnant has been detected in N103B, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there — it’s just a case of searching for it. Thanks to Hubble, we now have an amazing view of this supernova remnant and its associated environment, providing us with vital information that we can use to further our understanding of stellar evolution and star formation. Hopefully with continued observations we’ll be able to detect any potential stellar survivor at N103B and unlock more secrets from this spectacular supernova remnant!