Chandra images show result of star formation on overdrive

Friday, January 14, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new image captured by Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the result of star formation on overdrive.

M82 is a so-called starburst galaxy, where stars are forming at rates that are tens or even hundreds of times higher than in a normal galaxy.

Astronomers believe that the star formation in this galaxy is a result of collision with its neighbour M81 millions of years ago.

Among the 104 point-like X-ray sources in the image, eight so far have been observed to be very bright in X-rays and undergo clear changes in brightness over periods of weeks and years, indicating that they could be black holes pulling material from companion stars that are much more massive than the Sun.

The image will help experts understand the rapid rate at which supernovas explode in starburst galaxies like M82.

When the shock waves travel through the galaxy, they push on giant clouds of gas and dust, which causes them to collapse and form massive stars, which, in turn, use up their fuel quickly and explode as supernovas.

These supernovas produce expanding bubbles of multimillion-degree gas that extend for millions light-years away from the galaxy’s disk. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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