Hubble Hooks a Supernova Host Galaxy

Aug. 21, 2020


purplish-blue "Meathook galaxy" against black backdrop of space

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features the spectacular galaxy NGC 2442, nicknamed the Meathook galaxy owing to its extremely asymmetrical and irregular shape.

This galaxy was host to a supernova explosion spotted in March 2015, known as SN 2015F, that was created by a white dwarf star. The white dwarf was part of a binary star system and siphoned mass from its companion, eventually becoming too greedy and taking on more than it could handle. This unbalanced the star and triggered runaway nuclear fusion that eventually led to an intensely violent supernova explosion. The supernova shone brightly for quite some time and was easily visible from Earth through even a small telescope until months later.

Text credit: ESA (European Space Agency)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, S. Smartt et al.
Last Updated: Aug. 21, 2020Editor: Rob Garner

23 thoughts on “Hubble Hooks a Supernova Host Galaxy

  1. Great image.

    It’s amazing to me in all these images just how many distant galaxies you can see. Even in the low resolution image on the webpage I can see at least 6 and there’s probably dozens/hundreds more. And that’s just the spiral galaxies like our own. We are not alone!

  2. Ok Charles, you got me on this one (I’m not an astrophysicist).

    What you’re describing is a Type I super nova (white dwarf accretes material from a companion star until a some critical threshold is crossed and the sucker blows up with a (supposedly) consistent) brightness.

    I’m not being critical (don’t have enough understanding of this phenomena), but your text can easily be read as implying this was an especially violent Type I Super Nova explosion. Due to the gradual accretion process, aren’t all Type I Super Nova explosions more or less equal?

    Type II Super Nova is a different animal all together.

    • Type one ‘standard candle’ because the pre supernova mass and atomic composition (fusion stopped at carbon) is so well known. I guest posted on this a few months ago in Essay Quantum musings.

    • It’s not just the dwarf.

      My (highly suspect) understanding is Type I Super Nova involves a white dwarf (think mass of the sun; size of the earth) with a hydrogen-rich companion star. The white dwarf is incredibly dense so its fusion reactions create heavier elements than He (like O & C).

      Over a period of time, due to the differences in gravitational fields, the white dwarf accretes (steals) matter from the companion star. At some critical point, enough hydrogen fuel is falling in and being compressed by the dwarf’s gravity, that some critical threshold is crossed and the system goes Super Nova.

      • See my rather more complex explanation previously posted as ‘Some random quantum thoughts’ June 2020. Been there, done that. Already this year.

    • First time I’ve heard of a dwarf going supernova.

      Different from a giant star collapsing, Type I supernovae is a carbon-oxygen fusion bomb of a white dwarf reaching 1.4 solar masses from accretion from a companion star.

  3. Update: the Meathook Galaxy has been renamed the Vegetarian Swoosh Galaxy by NASA’s PC Division. Evidently the European Space Agency hasn’t gotten the memo yet.

  4. Very picturesque galaxy & the prominent arm. Dust spirals all the way down to the center supermassive black hole.

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