"X-ray Champagne Flow" Uncorked in Horseshoe 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
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."
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Image credit: NASA/Penn State/L. Townsley et al
Story provided by Chandra X-ray Observatory