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  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on May 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , E0102-72.3: Astronomers Spot a Distant and Lonely Neutron Star, , NASA Chandra,   

    From NASA Chandra: “E0102-72.3: Astronomers Spot a Distant and Lonely Neutron Star” 

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    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

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    Credit X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE & NASA/STScI)

    An isolated neutron star — with a low magnetic field and no stellar companion — has been found for the first time outside of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Astronomers used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Very Large Telescope, and other telescopes to make this discovery.

    Neutron stars are the ultra dense cores of massive stars that collapse and undergo a supernova explosion.

    Future observations at X-ray, optical, and radio wavelengths should help astronomers better understand this lonely neutron star.

    Astronomers [F.P.A. Vogt, E.S. Bartlett, I.R. Seitenzahl, M.A. Dopita, P. Ghavamian, A.J. Ruiter, J.P. Terry] have discovered a special kind of neutron star for the first time outside of the Milky Way galaxy, using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    Neutron stars are the ultra dense cores of massive stars that collapse and undergo a supernova explosion. This newly identified neutron star is a rare variety that has both a low magnetic field and no stellar companion.

    The neutron star is located within the remains of a supernova — known as 1E 0102.2-7219 (E0102 for short) — in the Small Magellanic Cloud, located 200,000 light years from Earth.

    Small Magellanic Cloud. 10 November 2005. ESA/Hubble and Digitized Sky Survey 2

    This new composite image of E0102 allows astronomers to learn new details about this object that was discovered more than three decades ago. In this image, X-rays from Chandra are blue and purple, and visible light data from VLT’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument are bright red.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT

    Additional data from the Hubble Space Telescope are dark red and green.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Oxygen-rich supernova remnants like E0102 are important for understanding how massive stars fuse lighter elements into heavier ones before they explode. Seen up to a few thousand years after the original explosion, oxygen-rich remnants contain the debris ejected from the dead star’s interior. This debris (visible as a green filamentary structure in the combined image) is observed today hurtling through space after being expelled at millions of miles per hour.

    Chandra observations of E0102 show that the supernova remnant is dominated by a large ring-shaped structure in X-rays, associated with the blast wave of the supernova. The new MUSE data revealed a smaller ring of gas (in bright red) that is expanding more slowly than the blast wave. At the center of this ring is a blue point-like source of X-rays. Together, the small ring and point source act like a celestial bull’s eye.

    The combined Chandra and MUSE data suggest that this source is an isolated neutron star, created in the supernova explosion about two millennia ago. The X-ray energy signature, or “spectrum,” of this source is very similar to that of the neutron stars located at the center of two other famous oxygen-rich supernova remnants: Cassiopeia A (Cas A) and Puppis A. These two neutron stars also do not have companion stars.

    Cassiopeia A false color image using Hubble and Spitzer telescopes and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit NASA JPL-Caltech

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    Puppis A Supernova Remnant astrodonimaging.com

    The lack of evidence for extended radio emission or pulsed X-ray radiation, typically associated with rapidly rotating highly-magnetized neutron stars, indicates that the astronomers have detected the X-radiation from the hot surface of an isolated neutron star with low magnetic fields. About ten such objects have been detected in the Milky Way galaxy, but this is the first one detected outside our galaxy.

    But how did this neutron star end up in its current position, seemingly offset from the center of the circular shell of X-ray emission produced by the blast wave of the supernova? One possibility is that the supernova explosion did occur near the middle of the remnant, but the neutron star was kicked away from the site in an asymmetric explosion, at a high speed of about two million miles per hour. However, in this scenario, it is difficult to explain why the neutron star is, today, so neatly encircled by the recently discovered ring of gas seen at optical wavelengths.

    Another possible explanation is that the neutron star is moving slowly and its current position is roughly where the supernova explosion happened. In this case, the material in the optical ring may have been ejected either during the supernova explosion, or by the doomed progenitor star up to a few thousand years before.

    A challenge for this second scenario is that the explosion site would be located well away from the center of the remnant as determined by the extended X-ray emission. This would imply a special set of circumstances for the surroundings of E0102: for example, a cavity carved by winds from the progenitor star before the supernova explosion, and variations in the density of the interstellar gas and dust surrounding the remnant.

    Future observations of E0102 at X-ray, optical, and radio wavelengths should help astronomers solve this exciting new puzzle posed by the lonely neutron star.

    A paper describing these results was published in the April issue of Nature Astronomy.

    See the full article here .


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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

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  • richardmitnick 7:11 am on May 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Chandra, Sagittarius A* Swarm: Black Hole Bounty Captured in the Milky Way Center   

    From NASA Chandra: “Sagittarius A* Swarm: Black Hole Bounty Captured in the Milky Way Center” 

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    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

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    High Energy X-rays
    Credit NASA/CXC/Columbia Univ./C. Hailey et al.
    Release Date May 9, 2018

    Evidence for thousands of black holes located near the center of our Milky Way galaxy has been gathered using Chandra data.

    This population consists of stellar-mass black holes, which typically weigh between five to 30 times the mass of the Sun.

    Researchers combed through Chandra data for systems that consist of a black hole locked in close orbit with a star.

    The new study revealed a high concentration of stellar-mass black holes within three light years of the Galactic Center.

    Astronomers have discovered evidence for thousands of black holes located near the center of our Milky Way galaxy using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

    This black hole bounty consists of stellar-mass black holes, which typically weigh between five to 30 times the mass of the Sun. These newly identified black holes were found within three light years — a relatively short distance on cosmic scales — of the supermassive black hole at our Galaxy’s center known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).

    Theoretical studies of the dynamics of stars in galaxies have indicated that a large population of stellar mass black holes — as many as 20,000 — could drift inward over the eons and collect around Sgr A*. This recent analysis using Chandra data is the first observational evidence for such a black hole bounty.

    A black hole by itself is invisible. However, a black hole — or neutron star — locked in close orbit with a star will pull gas from its companion (astronomers call these systems “X-ray binaries”). This material falls into a disk and heats up to millions of degrees and produces X-rays before disappearing into the black hole. Some of these X-ray binaries appear as point-like sources in the Chandra image.

    A team of researchers, led by Chuck Hailey of Columbia University in New York, used Chandra data to search for X-ray binaries containing black holes that are located near Sgr A*.

    SGR A* , the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory

    They studied the X-ray spectra — that is the amount of X-rays seen at different energies — of sources within about 12 light years of Sgr A*.

    The team then selected sources with X-ray spectra similar to those of known X-ray binaries, which have relatively large amounts of low energy X-rays. Using this method they detected fourteen X-ray binaries within about three light years of Sgr A*. Two X-ray sources likely to contain neutron stars based on the detection of characteristic outbursts in previous studies were then eliminated from the analysis.

    The dozen remaining X-ray binaries are identified in the labeled version of the image using red colored circles. Other sources with relatively large amounts of high energy X-rays are labeled in white, and are mostly binaries containing white dwarf stars.

    Hailey and his collaborators concluded that a majority of these dozen X-ray binaries are likely to contain black holes. The amount of variability they have shown over timescales of years is different from that expected for X-ray binaries containing neutron stars.

    Only the brightest X-ray binaries containing black holes are likely to be detectable at the distance of Sgr A*. Therefore, the detections in this study imply that a much larger population of fainter, undetected X-ray binaries — at least 300 and up to a thousand — containing stellar-mass black holes should be present around Sgr A*.

    This population of black holes with companion stars near Sgr A* could provide insight into the formation of X-ray binaries from close encounters between stars and black holes. This discovery could also inform future gravitational wave research. Knowing the number of black holes in the center of a typical galaxy can help in better predicting how many gravitational wave events may be associated with them.

    An even larger population of stellar-mass black holes without companion stars should be present near Sgr A*. According to theoretical follow-up work by Aleksey Generozov of Columbia and his colleagues, more than about 10,000 black holes and as many as 40,000 black holes should exist in the center of the Galaxy.

    While the authors strongly favor the black hole explanation, they cannot rule out the possibility that up to about half of the observed dozen sources are from a population of millisecond pulsars, i.e., very rapidly rotating neutron stars with strong magnetic fields.

    A paper describing these results appeared in the April 5th issue of the journal Nature.

    See the full article here .

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:34 pm on May 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Chandra, ,   

    From NASA Chandra: “Messier 82: Images From Space Telescopes Produce Stunning View of Starburst Galaxy” 2006 

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    From NASA Chandra

    Release Date April 24, 2006 [In social media 5.8.18

    Messier 82:
    Images From Space Telescopes Produce Stunning View of Starburst Galaxy

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHU/D.Strickland; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA/The Hubble Heritage Team; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of AZ/C. Engelbracht

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Images from three of NASA’s Great Observatories were combined to create this spectacular, multiwavelength view of the starburst galaxy Messier 82 [Cigar Galaxy]. Optical light from stars (yellow-green/Hubble Space Telescope) shows the disk of a modest-sized, apparently normal galaxy.

    Another Hubble observation designed to image 10,000 degree Celsius hydrogen gas (orange) reveals a startlingly different picture of matter blasting out of the galaxy. The Spitzer Space Telescope infrared image (red) shows that cool gas and dust are also being ejected.

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    Chandra’s X-ray image (blue) reveals gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by the violent outflow. The eruption can be traced back to the central regions of the galaxy where stars are forming at a furious rate, some 10 times faster than in the Milky Way Galaxy.

    Many of these newly formed stars are very massive and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas. Vigorous mass loss from these stars before they explode, and the heat generated by the supernovas drive the gas out of the galaxy at millions of miles per hour. It is thought that the expulsion of matter from a galaxy during bursts of star formation is one of the main ways of spreading elements like carbon and oxygen throughout the universe.

    The burst of star formation in Messier 82 is thought to have been initiated by shock waves generated in a close encounter with a large nearby galaxy, Messier 81, about 100 million years ago. These shock waves triggered the collapse of giant clouds of dust and gas in M82. In another 100 million years or so, most of the gas and dust will have been used to form stars, or blown out of the galaxy, so the starburst will subside.

    See the full article here .

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:54 am on May 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Chandra, , Stellar cluster NGC 6231   

    From NASA Chandra: “NGC 6231: Stellar Family Portrait in X-rays” 

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    NASA Chandra

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Valparaiso/M. Kuhn et al; IR: NASA/JPL/WISE
    An infrared image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey explorer is shown on the left.

    NASA/WISE Telescope

    Chandra’s image of the stellar cluster NGC 6231 helps provide an accurate census of the stars that reside there.

    Astronomers think that our Sun was born in a stellar cluster about 4.6 billion years ago that quickly dispersed.

    X-rays from Chandra were used to identify Sun-like stars in NGC 6231 that were previously missed.

    The Chandra image shows the inner region of NGC 6231 where red, green, and blue represent low, medium, and high-energy X-rays.

    In some ways, star clusters are like giant families with thousands of stellar siblings. These stars come from the same origins — a common cloud of gas and dust — and are bound to one another by gravity. Astronomers think that our Sun was born in a star cluster about 4.6 billion years ago that quickly dispersed.

    By studying young star clusters, astronomers hope to learn more about how stars — including our Sun — are born. NGC 6231, located about 5,200 light years from Earth, is an ideal testbed for studying a stellar cluster at a critical stage of its evolution: not long after star formation has stopped.

    The discovery of NGC 6231 is attributed to Giovanni Battista Hodierna, an Italian mathematician and priest who published observations of the cluster in 1654. Sky watchers today can find the star cluster to the southwest of the tail of the constellation Scorpius.

    NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has been used to identify the young Sun-like stars in NGC 6231, which have, until recently, been hiding in plain sight. Young star clusters like NGC 6231 are found in the band of the Milky Way on the sky. As a result, interloping stars lying in front of or behind NGC 6231 greatly outnumber the stars in the cluster. These stars will generally be much older than those in NGC 6231, so members of the cluster can be identified by selecting signs of stellar youth.

    Young stars stand out to Chandra because they have strong magnetic activity that heats their outer atmosphere to tens of millions of degrees Celsius and causes them to emit X-rays. Infrared measurements assist in verifying that an X-ray source is a young star and in inferring the star’s properties.

    This Chandra X-ray image of NGC 6231 shows a close-up of the inner region of the cluster. Chandra can detect a range of X-ray light, which has been split into three bands to create this image. Red, green, and blue represents the lower, medium, and high-energy X-rays. The brightest X-ray emission is white.

    The Chandra data, combined with infrared data from the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) Variables in the Vía Lactéa survey has provided the best census of young stars in NGC 6231 available.


    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    There are an estimated 5,700 to 7,500 young stars in NGC 6231 in the Chandra field of view, about twice the number of stars in the well-known Orion star cluster. The stars in NGC 6231 are slightly older (3.2 million years on average) than those in Orion (2.5 million years old). However, NGC 6231 is much larger in volume and therefore the number density of its stars, that is, their proximity to one another, is much lower, by a factor of about 30. These differences enable scientists to study the diversity of properties for star clusters during the first few million years of their life.

    Chandra studies of this and other young star clusters, have allowed astronomers to build up a sample from which cluster evolution can be studied. These clusters come from dozens of star-forming regions, but NGC 6231 adds a crucial piece to this puzzle because it shows how a cluster looks after the end of star formation. A comparison of the ages, sizes and masses of clusters in this sample implies that NGC 6231 has expanded from a more compact initial state, but it has not expanded sufficiently fast for its stars to break free from the cluster’s gravitational pull. Astronomers are not sure what will happen next: will it remain held together by gravity? Or will its constituents one day disperse as our Sun’s ancestral cluster once did?

    Nearby star-forming regions frequently contain multiple star clusters, most of which are individually less massive than NGC 6231. The simple structure of NGC 6231, along with its relatively high mass, suggests that NGC 6231 was built up by mergers of several star clusters early its lifetime, a process known as “hierarchical cluster assembly”.

    Two papers describing recent studies of NGC 6231, both led by Michael Kuhn while at the Universidad de Valparaíso in Chile, have been published and are available online at https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.00017 and https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.01731.

    See the full article here .

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:47 pm on April 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , M82X-2: Suspected Black Hole Unmasked as Ultraluminous Pulsar, NASA Chandra   

    From Chandra via Manu: “M82X-2: Suspected Black Hole Unmasked as Ultraluminous Pulsar” 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

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    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    NASA Chandra

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Toulouse/M.Bachetti et al, Optical: NOAO/AURA/NSF

    The brightest pulsar ever recorded has been discovered in the M82 galaxy.

    This object is an “ultraluminous X-ray source” (ULX), a class of objects that astronomers previously thought contained a stellar-mass black hole or neutron star.

    NuSTAR, a high-energy X-ray telescope, detected unusual pulsations in the ULX.

    NASA NuSTAR X-ray telescope

    Astronomers used Chandra to identify exactly which X-ray source was emitting the pulsations and other unusual behavior.

    An Ultraluminous X-ray Source (ULX) that astronomers had thought was a black hole is really the brightest pulsar ever recorded. ULXs are objects that produce more X-rays than most “normal” X-ray binary systems, in which a star is orbiting a neutron star or a stellar-mass black hole. Black holes in these X-ray binary systems generally weigh about five to thirty times the mass of the sun.

    Astronomers used NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) and Chandra X-ray Observatory to study two ULXs in the center of M82, a galaxy located just over 11 million light years from Earth. This composite image shows X-rays from NuSTAR (purple) and Chandra (blue) that have been combined with optical data from the NOAO 2.1 meter telescope (gold). The extended X-ray emission is unrelated to the two ULXs.

    Until now, astronomers have thought that matter falling onto black holes powered the bright X-ray emission in all ULXs. Most of the black holes in ULXs are thought to weigh at least 10 to 50 times the mass of the Sun, but some of the brightest ULXs are thought to weigh 100 times the Sun’s mass, or more.

    The new X-ray data provide a critical clue to the nature of one of the ULXs in M82. Using NuSTAR, scientists have discovered regular variations, or “pulsations,” in the object known as M82X-2. This object pulses once on average every 1.37 seconds, and pulsations change in a regular pattern with a period of 2.5 days.

    These types of pulsations are not seen with black holes. Rather, they are the signatures of so-called pulsars, rapidly rotating neutron stars. The apparent shifts in the pulsation period are due to the motion of the star in its orbit. Assuming that the pulsar weighs 1.4 times the mass of the Sun (the common size of a pulsar or neutron star), the data imply that the companion star’s mass is at least 5.2 times the mass of the Sun.

    This discovery is significant because it may mean that pulsars make up a significant part of the ULX population. Chandra had observed M82X-2 before but these pulsations were not found until observations were made by NuSTAR, a high-energy X-ray mission that was launched in 2012. While NuSTAR detected the pulsations, Chandra, with its excellent spatial resolution, was needed to resolve M82X-2 from the other nearby ULX and rule out the contributions from other possible sources unresolved by NuSTAR. Although Chandra did not detect pulsations from M82X-2, scientists determined which source was responsible for the pulsations seen by NuSTAR by comparing the Chandra and NuSTAR images.

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    In addition to the pulsations, the overall brightness in X-rays of M82X-2 is variable over timescales lasting weeks and months. At its brightest it is more than ten times brighter than any known pulsar that is powered by accretion of material from a companion star. It is so bright that generally astronomers thought that only 50 to 100 solar mass black holes could explain such a bright ULX.

    The latest study of M82X-2 provides new challenges for theorists to develop models explaining how a pulsar can pull matter inward and produce such copious X-rays. When matter is pulled toward a dense, compact object, like a pulsar, neutron star, or black hole, it is heated and produces X-rays. These X-rays create a radiation pressure that pushes out on the matter. For sustained infall of matter, the radiation pressure of the X-rays should be less than the pull of the compact object’s gravity.

    The X-ray luminosity of M82X-2 reaches about 100 times brighter than the threshold where the outward pressure from radiation balances the inward pull of gravity of the pulsar, the so-called Eddington limit. Possible explanations for violations of the Eddington limit include geometrical effects arising from the funneling of infalling material along magnetic field lines.

    The authors of the study that appears in the journal Nature are Matteo Bachetti (University of Toulouse, France), Fiona Harrison (California Institute of Technology), Dominic Walton (Cal Tech), Brian Grefenstrette (Cal Tech), Deepto Chakrabarty (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Felix Fuerst (Cal Tech), Didier Barret (Toulouse), Andrei Beloborodov (Columbia University), Steven Boggs (University of California, Berkeley), Finn Erland Christensen (Technical University of Denmark), William Craig (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), Andy Fabian (University of Cambridge), Charles Hailey (Columbia University), Ann Hornschemeier (Goddard Space Flight Center), Shri Kulkarni (MIT), Tom Maccarone (Texas Tech University), Jon M. Miller (University of Michigan), Vikram Rana (Cal Tech), Daniel Stern (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Shriharsh Tendulkar (Cal Tech), John Tomsick (University of California, Berkeley), Natalie Webb (Toulouse), and William Zhang (GSFC).

    See the full article here .

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:09 am on April 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Chandra,   

    From NASA Chandra via Manu: “MSH 11-62 and G327.1-1.1: Supernova Shock Waves, Neutron Stars, and Lobsters” November 19, 2014 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

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    NASA Chandra

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    Credit NASA/CXC/GSFC/T.Temim et al.

    Two new Chandra images of supernova remnants reveal intricate structures left behind after massive stars exploded.

    Powerful winds of high-energy particles are released from the dense core of the dead star to create so-called pulsar wind nebulas.

    MSH 11-62 and G327.1-1.1 are examples of how complex the aftermath of stellar explosions can be.

    A supernova that signals the death of a massive star sends titanic shock waves rumbling through interstellar space. An ultra-dense neutron star is usually left behind, which is far from dead, as it spews out a blizzard of high-energy particles.

    Two new images from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory provide fascinating views — including an enigmatic lobster-like feature — of the complex aftermath of a supernova.

    When a massive star runs out of fuel resulting in a supernova explosion, the central regions usually collapse to form a neutron star. The energy generated by the formation of the neutron star triggers a supernova. As the outward-moving shock wave sweeps up interstellar gas, a reverse shock wave is driven inward, heating the stellar ejecta.

    Meanwhile, the rapid rotation and intense magnetic field of the neutron star, a.k.a. a pulsar, combine to generate a powerful wind of high-energy particles. This so-called pulsar wind nebula can glow brightly in X-rays and radio waves.

    A long observation with Chandra of the supernova remnant MSH 11-62 (left image) reveals an irregular shell of hot gas, shown in red, surrounding an extended nebula of high energy X-rays, shown in blue. Even though scientists have yet to detect any pulsations from the central object within MSH 11-62, the structure around it has many of the same characteristics as other pulsar wind nebulas. The reverse shock and other, secondary shocks within MSH 11-62 appear to have begun to crush the pulsar wind nebula, possibly contributing to its elongated shape. (Note: the orientation of this image has been rotated by 24 degrees so that north is pointed to the upper left.)

    MSH 11-62 is located about 16,000 light years from Earth. The foreground of MSH 11-62 is speckled with hundreds of sources associated with the open stellar cluster Trumpler 18, located at a distance of about 5,000 light years, revealing a vast collection of stars.

    The supernova remnant G327.1-1.1, located about 29,000 light years from Earth, is another spectacular debris field left behind when a massive star exploded. The Chandra image of G327.1-1.1 (right image) shows the outward-moving, or forward, shock wave (seen as the faint red color), and a bright pulsar wind nebula (blue). The pulsar wind nebula appears to have been distorted by the combined action of the reverse shock wave, which may have flattened it, and by the motion of the pulsar, which created a comet, or lobster-like tail. An asymmetric supernova explosion may have given a recoil kick to the pulsar, causing it to move rapidly and drag the pulsar wind nebula along with it.

    Two structures resembling lobster claws protrude from near the head of the pulsar wind nebula. The origin of these features, which may be produced by the interaction of the pulsar wind with the reverse shock, is unknown.

    These results are presented at the “15 Years of Chandra” symposium (http://cxc.harvard.edu/symposium_2014/) by Patrick Slane of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass., and Tea Temim of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    See the full article here .

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:25 am on April 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "RCW 108: Massive Young Stars Trigger Stellar Birth, , , , , NASA Chandra,   

    From NASA Chandra: “RCW 108: Massive Young Stars Trigger Stellar Birth” October 06, 2008 

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/S.Wolk et al; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    RCW 108 is a region where stars are actively forming within the Milky Way galaxy about 4,000 light years from Earth. This is a complicated region that contains young star clusters, including one that is deeply embedded in a cloud of molecular hydrogen. By using data from different telescopes, astronomers determined that star birth in this region is being triggered by the effect of nearby, massive young stars.

    This image is a composite of X-ray data from Chandra (blue) and infrared emission detected by Spitzer (red and orange).

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    More than 400 X-ray sources were identified in Chandra’s observations of RCW 108. About 90% of these X-ray sources are thought to be part of the cluster and not stars that lie in the field-of-view either behind or in front of it. Many of the stars in RCW 108 are experiencing the violent flaring seen in other young star-forming regions such as the Orion Nebula. Gas and dust blocks much of the X-rays from the juvenile stars located in the center of the image, explaining the relative dearth of Chandra sources in this part of the image.

    The Spitzer data show the location of the embedded star cluster, which appears as the bright knot of red and orange just to the left of the center of the image. Some stars from a larger cluster, known as NGC 6193, are also visible on the left side of the image. Astronomers think that the dense clouds within RCW 108 are in the process of being destroyed by intense radiation emanating from hot and massive stars in NGC 6193.

    Taken together, the Chandra and Spitzer data indicate that there are more massive star candidates than expected in several areas of this image. This suggests that pockets within RCW 108 underwent localized episodes of star formation. Scientists predict that this type of star formation is triggered by the effects of radiation from bright, massive stars such as those in NGC 6193. This radiation may cause the interior of gas clouds in RCW 108 to be compressed, leading to gravitational collapse and the formation of new stars.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:41 am on April 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dead Star Circled by Light, , , NASA Chandra,   

    From ESO: “Dead Star Circled by Light” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    5 April 2018
    Frédéric P. A. Vogt
    ESO Fellow
    Santiago, Chile
    Email: fvogt@eso.org

    Elizabeth S. Bartlett
    ESO Fellow
    Santiago, Chile
    Email: ebartlet@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1
    New images from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other telescopes reveal a rich landscape of stars and glowing clouds of gas in one of our closest neighbouring galaxies, the Small Magellanic Cloud. The pictures have allowed astronomers to identify an elusive stellar corpse buried among filaments of gas left behind by a 2000-year-old supernova explosion. The MUSE instrument was used to establish where this elusive object is hiding, and existing Chandra X-ray Observatory data confirmed its identity as an isolated neutron star.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    Spectacular new pictures, created from images from both ground- and space-based telescopes [1], tell the story of the hunt for an elusive missing object hidden amid a complex tangle of gaseous filaments in the Small Magellanic Cloud, about 200 000 light-years from Earth.

    New data from the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has revealed a remarkable ring of gas in a system called 1E 0102.2-7219, expanding slowly within the depths of numerous other fast-moving filaments of gas and dust left behind after a supernova explosion. This discovery allowed a team led by Frédéric Vogt, an ESO Fellow in Chile, to track down the first ever isolated neutron star with low magnetic field located beyond our own Milky Way galaxy.

    The team noticed that the ring was centred on an X-ray source that had been noted years before and designated p1. The nature of this source had remained a mystery. In particular, it was not clear whether p1 actually lies inside the remnant or behind it. It was only when the ring of gas — which includes both neon and oxygen — was observed with MUSE that the science team noticed it perfectly circled p1. The coincidence was too great, and they realised that p1 must lie within the supernova remnant itself. Once p1’s location was known, the team used existing X-ray observations of this target from the Chandra X-ray Observatory to determine that it must be an isolated neutron star, with a low magnetic field.

    In the words of Frédéric Vogt: “If you look for a point source, it doesn’t get much better than when the Universe quite literally draws a circle around it to show you where to look.”

    When massive stars explode as supernovae, they leave behind a curdled web of hot gas and dust, known as a supernova remnant. These turbulent structures are key to the redistribution of the heavier elements — which are cooked up by massive stars as they live and die — into the interstellar medium, where they eventually form new stars and planets.

    Typically barely ten kilometres across, yet weighing more than our Sun, isolated neutron stars with low magnetic fields are thought to be abundant across the Universe, but they are very hard to find because they only shine at X-ray wavelengths [2]. The fact that the confirmation of p1 as an isolated neutron star was enabled by optical observations is thus particularly exciting.

    Co-author Liz Bartlett, another ESO Fellow in Chile, sums up this discovery: “This is the first object of its kind to be confirmed beyond the Milky Way, made possible using MUSE as a guidance tool. We think that this could open up new channels of discovery and study for these elusive stellar remains.”
    Notes

    [1] The image combines data from the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and the orbiting the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    [2] Highly-magnetic spinning neutron stars are called pulsars. They emit strongly at radio and other wavelengths and are easier to find, but they are only a small fraction of all the neutron stars predicted to exist.

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled Identification of the central compact object in the young supernova remnant 1E 0102.2-7219, by Frédéric P. A. Vogt et al., in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    The team is composed of Frédéric P. A. Vogt (ESO, Santiago, Chile & ESO Fellow), Elizabeth S. Bartlett (ESO, Santiago, Chile & ESO Fellow), Ivo R. Seitenzahl (University of New South Wales Canberra, Australia), Michael A. Dopita (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia), Parviz Ghavamian (Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA), Ashley J. Ruiter (University of New South Wales Canberra & ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics, Australia) and Jason P. Terry (University of Georgia, Athens, USA).

    See the full article here .

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT
    VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.
    ESO Vista Telescope

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m.

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres

     
  • richardmitnick 7:54 pm on April 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Chandra, Scientists Surprised by Relentless Cosmic Cold Front   

    From Chandra: “Scientists Surprised by Relentless Cosmic Cold Front” 

    NASA Chandra Banner

    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    NASA Chandra

    April 2, 2018
    Media contact:
    Megan Watzke
    Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.
    617-496-7998
    mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu

    1
    Cold Front in the Perseus galaxy cluster

    3
    An accumulation of 270 hours of Chandra observations of the central regions of the Perseus galaxy cluster reveals evidence of the turmoil that has wracked the cluster for hundreds of millions of years. One of the most massive objects in the universe, the cluster contains thousands of galaxies immersed in a vast cloud of multimillion degree gas with the mass equivalent of trillions of suns. Enormous bright loops, ripples, and jet-like streaks are apparent in the image. The dark blue filaments in the center are likely due to a galaxy that has been torn apart and is falling into NGC 1275, a.k.a. Perseus A, the giant galaxy that lies at the center of the cluster.
    1 December 2005 (released)
    Source http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2005/perseus/ (TIFF source)
    Author NASA/CXC/IoA/A.Fabian et al.

    This winter has brought many intense and powerful storms, with cold fronts sweeping across much of the United States. On a much grander scale, astronomers have discovered enormous “weather systems” that are millions of light years in extent and older than the Solar System.

    The researchers used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to study a cold front located in the Perseus galaxy cluster that extends for about two million light years, or about 10 billion billion miles.

    Galaxy clusters are the largest and most massive objects in the Universe that are held together by gravity. In between the hundreds or even thousands of galaxies in a cluster, there are vast reservoirs of super-heated gas that glow brightly in X-ray light.

    The cold front in the Perseus cluster consists of a relatively dense band of gas with a “cool” temperature of about 30 million degrees moving through lower density hot gas with a temperature of about 80 million degrees. The enormous cold front studied with Chandra formed about 5 billion years ago and has been traveling at speeds of about 300,000 miles per hour ever since. Surprisingly, the front has remained extremely sharp over the eons, rather than becoming fuzzy or diffuse.

    “The size, age, speed and sharpness of this cold front are remarkable,” said Stephen Walker of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the study “Everything about this cosmic weather system is extreme.”

    While cold fronts in the Earth’s atmospheres are driven by rotation of the planet, those in the atmospheres of galaxy clusters like Perseus are caused by collisions between the cluster and other clusters of galaxies. These collisions typically occur as the gravity of the main cluster pulls the smaller cluster inward towards its central core. If the smaller cluster makes a close pass by the central core, the gravitational attraction between both structures causes the gas in the core to slosh around like wine swirled in a glass. The sloshing produces a spiral pattern of cold fronts moving outward through the cluster gas.

    One of the most surprising aspects of this new research is that the cold front in Perseus remains sharp, even after billions of years. As the cold front travels through the galaxy cluster, it passes through a harsh environment of sound waves and turbulence caused by outbursts from the supermassive black hole at the center of Perseus.

    “Somehow, in the face of all this bombardment, the cold front edge has survived intact,” said co-author John ZuHone of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Rather than being eroded or smoothed out, it has actually instead split into two distinct sharp edges!” “We’re not entirely sure what makes this cold front so resilient, but our computer simulations are providing some important clues,” said Jeremy Sanders, a co-author from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. “It seems that magnetic fields have draped themselves over the cold front, acting almost like a shield against the barrage of forces from the rest of the cluster.”

    These observations, coupled with the theoretical work, provide useful information about the strength of the magnetic field along the cold front. In their simulations the researchers tested the effects of three different magnetic field strengths. With the strongest magnetic field no split was seen in the cold front, and with the weakest magnetic field the cold front became blurred. Instead the simulation with an intermediate strength magnetic field reproduced the split cold front.

    The magnetic field along the cold front is equivalent to about one millionth of the strength of a typical refrigerator magnet, and is about ten times higher than in parts of the cluster away from the cold front.

    Aurora Simionescu and collaborators originally discovered the Perseus cold front in 2012 using data from the German ROSAT (the ROentgen SATellite), ESA’s XMM-Newton Observatory, and Japan’s Suzaku X-ray satellite.

    ROSAT X-ray satellite built by DLR , with instruments built by West Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States

    ESA/XMM Newton

    JAXA/Suzaku satellite

    Chandra’s high-resolution X-ray vision allowed the first observation of the sharpness and splitting of the ancient cold front to be performed.

    Perseus is the same cluster where astronomers discovered sound waves with a note of B-flat 57 octaves below middle-C plus a giant wave about twice the width of the Milky Way Galaxy.

    The results of this work appear in a paper that will be published in the April issue of Nature Astronomy. The other co-author of the paper is Andrew Fabian of the Institute of Astronomy (IoA) in Cambridge, England.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:51 am on April 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Chandra, Stephan's Quintet: A Galaxy Collision in Action   

    NASA Chandra: “Stephan’s Quintet: A Galaxy Collision in Action” 2009 From Before this Blog 

    NASA Chandra Banner

    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    NASA Chandra

    I have seen many articles on Stephan’s Quintet and done many posts. But this article which Chandra just put up in social media is the best I have ever seen and is worth the visit.

    July 9, 2009

    Stephan’s Quintet from Chandra Composite

    Stephan’s Quintet X-ray from Chandra

    Stephan’s Quintet Optical from Chandra


    Credit X-ray (NASA/CXC/CfA/E.O’Sullivan); Optical (Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope/Coelum)

    A compact group of galaxies, discovered about 130 years ago, about 280 million light years from Earth.

    One galaxy is passing through a core of four other galaxies.

    A shock wave generated from this motion heats the gas and produces X-rays detected by Chandra.

    This beautiful image gives a new look at Stephan’s Quintet, a compact group of galaxies discovered about 130 years ago and located about 280 million light years from Earth. The curved, light blue ridge running down the center of the image shows X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Four of the galaxies in the group are visible in the optical image (yellow, red, white and blue) from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.


    CFHT Telescope, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA, at Maunakea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    Labeled versions identify these galaxies (NGC 7317, NGC 7318a, NGC 7318b and NGC 7319) as well as a prominent foreground galaxy (NGC 7320) that is not a member of the group. The galaxy NGC 7318b is passing through the core of galaxies at almost 2 million miles per hour, and is thought to be causing the ridge of X-ray emission by generating a shock wave that heats the gas.

    Additional heating by supernova explosions and stellar winds has also probably taken place in Stephan’s Quintet. A larger halo of X-ray emission – not shown here – detected by ESA’s XMM-Newton could be evidence of shock-heating by previous collisions between galaxies in this group.

    ESA/XMM Newton

    Some of the X-ray emission is likely also caused by binary systems containing massive stars that are losing material to neutron stars or black holes.

    Stephan’s Quintet provides a rare opportunity to observe a galaxy group in the process of evolving from an X-ray faint system dominated by spiral galaxies to a more developed system dominated by elliptical galaxies and bright X-ray emission. Being able to witness the dramatic effect of collisions in causing this evolution is important for increasing our understanding of the origins of the hot, X-ray bright halos of gas in groups of galaxies.

    Stephan’s Quintet shows an additional sign of complex interactions in the past, notably the long tails visible in the optical image. These features were probably caused by one or more passages through the galaxy group by NGC 7317.

    No science paper listed.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
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