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Science / Medicine : Space Debris Shape Studied

October 05, 1987

New research indicates that the expanding cloud of debris blasted away from a baffling supernova discovered earlier this year is shaped more like a pumpkin than a sphere, an astrophysicist reported Wednesday.

The rare stellar explosion, dubbed a "chance in a lifetime" by eager astronomers, is throwing out an ever-growing shell of debris that represents the wreckage of a star about 160,000 light years from Earth.

Most astronomers had assumed that the shell, in the vacuum of space, is spherical, but astrophysics graduate student David Jeffery reported in the British science journal Nature that new data suggests it may be squashed out of shape.

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