NASA has revealed spectacular, newly reprocessed images of four of the most amazing supernovas ever captured by a human science instrument—the Crab Nebula (top), Tycho, G292.0+1.8, and 3C58—to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Chandra observatory. I decided to go one step further and collect them all.

We have detected other supernova, but I have avoided them in this list because they were either too distant to be observed with this detail (like this one) or they were detected before we had the appropriate instrumentation to photograph them at all (we have a historical record of them and even drawings of them, but no photos.)


What you can see here are the complete collection of most important ever captured by humankind's instruments, starting with the rest of the new Chandra series:




NASA's Astrophysics Division director Paul Hertz says that Chandra has "changed the way we do astronomy."

It showed that precision observation of the X-rays from cosmic sources is critical to understanding what is going on. We're fortunate we've had 15 years – so far – to use Chandra to advance our understanding of stars, galaxies, black holes, dark energy, and the origin of the elements necessary for life.

The following supernovas were taken by Chandra and/or other telescopes:



SN 1006

SN 1054

Cassiopeia A


SN 1987A


Cygnus Loop


N 63A


Cool supernova candidates

Wolf Rayet WR124 is not a supernova—yet. Scientists believe it is a candidate and it's so spectacular already that I couldn't avoid including it in this list.

The spectacular Eta Carinae, another forthcoming supernova that had to be included.


My favorite is the Crab Nebula. Or perhaps Cassiopeia A. I don't know. I always have a very hard time deciding. I just stare at them trying to comprehend the unimaginable power and processes that are photographed here.

p.s. I may have forgotten some. If so, please post them in the comments.

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