A Young Pulsar’s Frenzy.
Hanging out some 15 million light years from Earth, a very young pulsar is doing something unexpected. In 1957 a supernova was detected in galaxy M83 – one of the very few located outside our own galaxy.
Its observable in both optical and radio wavelengths. In 1981, researchers “saw” the supernova in radio and six years later they picked it up optically. Now, astronomers are employing NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory to make the first detection of X-rays being generated by the remnants of this catastrophic explosion.
For two years – 2000 and 2001 – Chandra made two, 14 hour observations of SN 1957D, but didn’t pick up any X-ray signatures. However, they didn’t give up. In 2010 and 2011, observation time jumped to a length of 8 and 1/2 days, and a successful presence of X-ray emissions was revealed. The X-ray brightness in 2000 and 2001 was about the same as or lower than in this deep image.
And what an incredible image it is! What you are looking at is one of the deepest X-ray observations ever made of a spiral galaxy beyond the Milky Way. This full-field view of the spiral galaxy shows the low, medium, and high-energy X-rays observed by Chandra in red, green, and blue respectively. The location of SN 1957D, which is found on the inner edge of the spiral arm just above the galaxy’s center, is outlined in the box. This new data is an important step towards understanding supernova events – an explosion which astronomers think occurred when a massive star depleted its fuel and collapsed. This deep photo reveals what may be a neutron star, formed when the core of pre-supernova star collapsed.
This rapidly spinning pulsar isn’t alone, though… it may be producing an envelope of charged particles which are moving at nearly light speed. This is known as a pulsar wind nebula. If scientists are correct in their assumptions, then the pulsar in SN 1957D should be 55 years old – the youngest pulsar ever observed. The Hubble Space Telescope has also contributed to the study as well, and its results are in the box labeled “Optical Close-Up”. This image shows the debris field on SN 1957D is located on the edge of a 10 million year old star cluster – an area where stellar size is about 17 times more mass than the Sun. A perfect environment for core collapse!
Original Story Source: Chandra News Release.