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M31 XMM X-ray mosaic
Credit: W. Pietsch, MPE Garching and ESA


Andromeda's X-ray

Sometimes one's view of an object benefits from a little distance. It's difficult, for example, to get a complete census of X-ray sources in our own Milky Way Galaxy, since parts are hidden from our direct view by thick dust and gas, and by confusion between nearby and distant objects. So in some ways our best view of the Milky Way's X-ray population might come from studies of our neighboring spiral galaxy, M31 (the Andromeda galaxy). Because M31 is distant (about 2.5 million light years) you need a big telescope to detect faint sources there. The image above shows the deepest image yet of the entirety of M31, a mosaic stitched together from individual pointings with the XMM-Newton X-ray telescope. The inset highlights the sources near the center of the spiral galaxy. The image shows resolved X-ray emission from a number of X-ray binaries, supernova remnants, and other energetic objects. This image allowed astronomers to identify a strange type of bursting neutron star, source, the first of this type found outside the Milky Way.


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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!


Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:25:29 EDT