Beautiful and Mysterious Superbubble In The Large Magellanic Cloud
Observed By Chandra

31 August, 2012

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Follow us: - Beautiful and mysterious structures known as superbubbles result from the stellar winds and supernovae of OB [spectral types O or early-type B] associations.

Astronomers believe they play play a fundamental role in the structure and energetics of the ISM [interstellar medium] in star-forming galaxies.

Their influence may also dominate the relationship between the different interstellar gas phases.

How do superbubbles form and evolve?
How do they affect the local and global ISM?

The Magellanic Clouds provide a superior opportunity to study this shell-forming activity, since both stellar content and gaseous structure can be examined in detail.

A superbubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was observed by astronomers using Chandra X-ray Observatory.

LMC is a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located about 160,000 light years from Earth.

Many new stars, some of them very massive, are forming in the star cluster NGC 1929, which is embedded in the nebula N44.

The massive stars produce intense radiation, expel matter at high speeds, and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas.

The winds and supernova shock waves carve out huge cavities called superbubbles in the surrounding gas. X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) show hot regions created by these winds and shocks, while infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (red) outline where the dust and cooler gas are found.

The optical light from the 2.2m Max-Planck-ESO telescope (yellow) in Chile shows where ultraviolet radiation from hot, young stars is causing gas in the nebula to glow.

A long-running problem in high-energy astrophysics has been that some superbubbles in the LMC, including N44, give off a lot more X-rays than expected from models of their structure.

A Chandra study published in 2011 showed that there are two extra sources of the bright X-ray emission: supernova shock waves striking the walls of the cavities, and hot material evaporating from the cavity walls.

The observations show no evidence for an enhancement of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium in the cavities, thus ruling out this possibility as an explanation for the bright X-ray emission.

Click on image to enlarge

NGC 1929 is a star cluster embedded in the N44 nebula, which is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Massive stars in the cluster produce intense radiation, expel matter at high speeds, and explode relatively quickly as supernovas.
Winds from the massive stars and shocks from the supernovas carve out "superbubbles" in the gas seen in X-rays by Chandra (blue). Infrared data show dust (red) and cooler gas and optical light (yellow) reveals where ultraviolet radiation is causing the gas to glow. Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Mich./S.Oey, IR: NASA/JPL, Optical: ESO/WFI/2.2-m

This is the first time that the data have been good enough to distinguish between different sources of the X-rays produced by superbubbles.

The Chandra study of N44 and another superbubble in the LMC was led by Anne Jaskot from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The co-authors were Dave Strickland from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, Sally Oey from University of Michigan, You-Hua Chu from University of Illinois and Guillermo Garcia-Segura from Instituto de Astronomia-UNAM in Ensenada, Mexico.

See also:
10 Spectacular Hubble Space Telescope Images Never Released Before

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