Composite X-ray/optical image of NGC 6946
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MSSL/R.Soria et al.; Optical: AURA/Gemini Observatory

Fireworks Display

Stars are born gradually, but sometimes in a burst
with a medley of masses; the youngest die first.
And those rare stars which contain the most mass
live fast, explode young, and produce extremely hot gas
that glows bright in X-rays, millions of degrees
permeating the host galaxy, which Chandra sees.
One noted galaxy, shown above, NGC 6946
offers an extremely active case of stellar pyrotechnics.
Over the past century, 9 stars met their explosive fate,
(nearly an order of magnitude faster than the Milky Way rate).
A Gemini image shows the beautiful face
of NGC 6946, while X-rays in purple from Chandra trace
the superheated interstellar medium and reveal
the three oldest supernova in this cosmic pinwheel.

Published: November 11, 2013

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 18-Nov-2013 06:57:12 EST