According to scientists massive supernova explosion that destroyed a faraway star
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apparently turned the left over stellar corpse inside out as well. Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory spacecraft, a team of researchers mapped the distribution of elements in the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A for short) in unprecedented detail. They found that Cas A, which is located about 11,000 light-years from Earth and exploded 300 years ago from our perspective, is wearing its guts on the outside. As said reserachers before it went supernova, the star Cas A likely had an iron-rich core that was surrounded by layers of sulfur and silicon, which were in turn overlaid by magnesium, neon and oxygen. Chandra’s observations showed that, after the explosion, most of that iron has now migrated to Cas A’s outer edges. Neither Chandra nor NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which is optimized to see in infrared wavelengths, has detected any iron near the supernova remnant’s center, where the element was originally formed. Also much of the silicon, sulfur and magnesium are now found on the outside of the still-expanding debris shell. Neon distribution hasn’t changed much, and not much can be said about the oxygen because its X-ray emissions are strongly absorbed along the line of sight to Cas A. According to reserachers this distribution of elements suggests that an instability in the supernova explosion process somehow turned the star inside out. The researchers estimate that the total amount of X-ray emitting debris has a mass just over three times that of our sun. Researchers found clumps of almost pure iron, indicating that this material must have been produced by nuclear reactions near the center of the pre-supernova Cas A.