AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Astronomers finally know why the first documented supernova was super-sized.
The exploded star was observed by the ancient Chinese in the year 185, and visible for eight months. It was later found to be a bigger-than-expected supernova remnant, 8,000 light years away. Each light year is about 6 trillion miles.
New observations in the infrared show the explosion took place in a cavity in space. The cavity allowed the stellar shrapnel to shoot faster and farther out into the universe.
The star _ similar to our sun _ died peacefully and turned into a dense white dwarf. It sucked up material from another star, and then exploded in a supernova.
NASA announced the findings Monday. Four space telescopes were used in the study.
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)