Composite Image of IC 443 and NS wake
Credit:Chandra X-ray: NASA/CXC/B.Gaensler et al; ROSAT X-ray: NASA/ROSAT/Asaoka & Aschenbach; Radio Wide: NRC/DRAO/D.Leahy; Radio Detail: NRAO/VLA; Optical: DSS

Runaway Corpse

Imagine the surprise if, at a wake, the corpse got up and ran down the block. Astronomers were only slightly less surprised by a recent X-ray image of a neutron star called CXOU J061705.3+222127 (or J0617 for short). This X-ray image is shown in the inset image above (along with radio and optical images). This X-ray image (obtained by the Chandra X-ray Observatory) shows a "wake" (in blue), produced as the neutron star spews out high-energy particles as it races through space. The surprise is revealed in the larger image of the entire supernova remnant (called IC 443) which was produced by the neutron star's birth. The neutron star is far from the center (pretty unexpected), but (and what's really surprising) is that the wake trailing the neutron star is not pointed away from the center of the remnant. The direction of the wake suggests that the neutron star is not moving radially away from the center of the remnant. If not, how did the neutron star get so far from the center of the supernova remnant?

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:20:51 EDT