The figure appears as part of an ESO press release about asymmetric supernovae. The closer I look at the figure, the more confused I get. I mean, the exploding star on the right indeed appears somewhat asymmetrical, but… What’s actually happening in this image?

The caption for the image reads, “Artist’s impression of how Type Ia supernovae may look like as revealed by the spectr-polarimetry observations. The outer regions of the blast cloud is asymmetric, with different materials found in ‘clumps’, while the inner regions are smooth.” Type Ia supernovae take place when gas from a companion star falls onto a white dwarf. The bright white star on the left looks suspiciously like a white dwarf, but it ain’t the one doing the exploding!

Then there’s the region of what appear to be brighter stars clumped around the “white dwarf.” Maybe that’s supposed to suggest infalling gas? But as previously noted, that’s not the star going boom.

So, yeah, I’m a little confused by this picture.

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