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"X-ray Champagne Flow" Uncorked in Horseshoe Nebula
08.20.03
 
Chandra image revealing hot gas flowing away from massive young stars in the center of the Horseshoe Nebula, a.k.a. M17, a.k.a. the Omega Nebula.
The Chandra image reveals hot gas flowing away from massive young stars in the center of the Horseshoe Nebula, a.k.a. M17, a.k.a. the Omega Nebula.


This new image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals hot gas flowing away from massive young stars in the center of the Horseshoe Nebula (a.k.a. M17 or the Omega Nebula). Observations from infrared telescopes of the Horseshoe Nebula show a cloud of much cooler gas and dust shaped like a horseshoe that gives the nebula its name. The hot gas shown by the Chandra image fits inside the cool gas cloud, and appears to have formed the horseshoe shape by carving a cavity in the cool gas.

Infrared Close-Up of M17
Infrared Close-Up of M17
The stars in the Horseshoe Nebula are only about a million years old ­ very young in astronomical terms. According to astronomers' calculations, not enough time has passed for one of the stars in the nebula to have exhausted its fuel supply, exploded as a supernova, and then heated the gas.

So, what's causing the glowing X-rays found by in this image? One possibility is high-speed winds of particles flowing away from the massive stars have slammed into each other, heating the gas. Or, the super-hot (up to 7 million degrees Fahrenheit) gas could be produced as these winds collide with cool clouds to form bubbles of hot gas. Wherever it came from, this hot gas appears to be flowing out of the Horseshoe like champagne flows out of a bottle when the cork is removed, so it has been termed an "X-ray champagne flow."

For images and more information, please visit
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/m17/index.html.

 
 
Image credit: NASA/Penn State/L. Townsley et al
Story provided by Chandra X-ray Observatory