07Feb2013

DEM L50 – Portrait of Stellar Effervescence

X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ of Michigan/A.E.Jaskot, Optical: NOAO/CTIO/MCELS

Thanks to a recent imaging done by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and a study led by Anne Jaskot from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, we’ve been presented with the incredible portrait of massive “superbubble” in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Just what are we looking at? Superbubbles are created by winds from massive stars and the shock waves produced when the stars explode as supernovae. 

Located about 160,000 light years from Earth, DEM L50, or N186, makes its home around a massive star that’s only a few million years old. These huge stars give off intense amounts of radiation and cough out matter at high speeds. They aren’t interested in evolving slowly – it’s as if they were in a race towards supernova. The stellar winds and shock waves produced in these regions blast their way through the the expelled material, shaping and clearing out gaseous regions. These “huge cavities” are called superbubbles.

X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are displayed as pink and optical data from the Magellanic Cloud Emission Line Survey (MCELS) are colored in red, green and blue. The MCELS data were obtained with the University of Michigan’s 0.9-meter Curtis Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). The shape of DEM L50 is approximately an ellipse, with a supernova remnant named SNR N186 D located on its northern edge.

Similar to another superbubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud – N44 – DEM L50 is a radiation powerhouse. It releases 20 times more x-rays than what is considered “normal” for anomalies of its type. In 2011, Chandra also did a superbubble study and observed two additional sources of bright x-ray emissions – the supernova shock waves blasting into the cavity walls and superheated materials dissipating from the wall structure.

Way hot for something so cool!

Original Story Source: Chandra Image Release. Submitted by Tammy Plotner for “Dave Reneke’s World of Space and Astronomy News”.

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