It is one thing to celebrate the Super Bowl with fireworks and beer, but leave it to NASA to celebrate in a truly explosive manner by tweeting out a picture of the oldest recorded supernova from 2,000 years ago. In fact, for the past seven hours, they have been tweeting pictures of cosmic explosions and incorporating the hashtags #SuperBowl, #sb48 and their own brand variation called “Super Nova Sunday” with the hashtag #SupernovaSunday. One thing is for sure, NASA is giving people a reason to be excited about the Super Bowl, even if they do not care about sports.
One of the space agency’s latest tweets posted at 12:36 PM Pacific Standard Time shows a beautiful array of colors that combines data from four different telescopes in order to capture an incredible multi-wavelength image. The supernova, which is called RCW 86 as they explain in the post, is one of the oldest documented examples ever recorded. The image was captured through X-rays, which display formations of interstellar gas heated to millions of degrees through shockwaves, which radiated out from the explosion. Definitely a bit of an overkill for heating up a bag of popcorn to watch the Super Bowl with.
While the image was originally posted on NASA’s website three years ago, it and the other displays of cosmic explosions are a pleasant reminder as to why people not just from the U.S., but around the world love NASA. Celebrating events such as the Super Bowl and creating their own parodies like Super Nova Sunday to celebrate with helps show the masses that space is an amazing place and full of vast wonders. It helps make people excited about learning and exploring whatever lies outside of planet Earth. The fact that each one of their super nova tweets has received anywhere between 500 to 1,000 retweets and favorites is decent proof that people by in large, are genuinely excited about what is going on in the universe.
#SupernovaSunday is perhaps not all that coincidentally timed with the launch of a new project where citizens can help search the stars for signs of baby solar systems forming in the universe. By going through the Disk Detective website, anyone with any level of scientific expertise (or none at all) can gain access to the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer or NASA’s satellite telescope called “WISE.” As Disc Detective says, it is possible to find the birthplace of planets and calls for anyone who is interested to get started and help explore outer space.
Other than posting a picture of the oldest recorded supernova, NASA has helped kick off the Super Nova Sunday celebrations by posting pictures of a youthful star wreck from the Milky Way galaxy, a 3D model of a star from the inside out, a picture of the Crab Nebula and more. With the Super Bowl still being early in, NASA has a lot more time to help get people interested with what is going on in the sky as well as on the ground. For more great cosmic images, keep an eye tuned to NASA twitter feed, as well as the Super Bowl of course.
By Jonathan Holowka