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Cassiopeia A(R) is a volumetric visualization of the Cassiopeia A supernova. This application is an experiment in spatial visualization and interaction. Use your voice and hands to explore the composition of the supernova. One of the most famous objects in the sky, the Cassiopeia A (Cas A) supernova remnant, can be seen like never before, thanks to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Glowbox. A three-dimensional augmented reality (AR) application of the 3D data allows you to view the debris from a massive stellar explosion, select the layers of the supernova remnant to engage with, and zoom in or rotate it. Researchers used combined data from Chandra, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based facilities to construct this unique 3D model of the 300-year old remains of a stellar explosion that blew a massive star apart, sending the stellar debris rushing into space at millions of miles per hour. When elements created inside a supernova, such as iron, silicon and argon, are heated they emit light at specific wavelengths. The motion of the material Doppler-shifts the light so that material moving towards the observer is seen at shorter wavelengths and material moving away is seen at longer wavelengths. Since the amount of the wavelength shift is related to the speed of motion, one can determine how fast the debris are moving in either direction. Because Cas A is the result of an explosion, the stellar debris are expanding radially outwards from the explosion center. Using simple geometry, scientists had previously constructed the 3D model using all of this information and special 3D imaging software modified for astronomical use. This new visualization takes advantage of AR technology to bring the model to your home or office. The 3D model and visualization helps show that there are two main components to this supernova remnant: a spherical component in the outer parts of the remnant and a flattened (disk-like) component in the inner region. The spherical component consists of the outer layer of the star that exploded, probably made of helium and carbon. These layers drove a spherical blast wave into the diffuse gas surrounding the star. The flattened component consists of the inner layers of the star. It is made from various heavier elements, not all shown in the visualization, such as oxygen, neon, silicon, sulfur, argon and iron. High-velocity plumes, or jets, of this material are shooting out from the explosion in the plane of the disk-like component mentioned above. Plumes of silicon appear in the northeast and southwest, while those of iron are seen in the southeast and north. The insight into the structure of Cas A gained from the original 3D visualization is important for astronomers who build models of supernova explosions. Now, they must consider that the outer layers of the star come off spherically, but the inner layers come out more disk-like with high-velocity jets in multiple directions.


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Approximate size

69.12 MB

Age rating

For all ages

This app can

Use your microphone
Use devices that support Near Field Communication (NFC) services
Access your Internet connection


Get this app while signed in to your Microsoft account and install on up to ten Windows 10 devices.

Language supported

English (United States)

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