Chandra Image of M17
Credit: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.

Hot Winds from the Horseshoe

Wild winds blow from the surfaces of young massive stars (stars about ten or more times as massive as the sun). These winds push relentlessly against the clouds, gas and dust in the interstellar medium. One such star can produce a cavity in the ISM called a "wind-blown bubble" full of hot gas. But these types of stars usually form in groups, and the combined action of these winds can produce a very big bubble. Such a big bubble has recently been imaged by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The image above shows a "true-color" X-ray image of the Horseshoe Nebula (also known by its Messier number, M17) in which red represents low-energy X-rays and blue high-energy X-rays. The Chandra image shows the presence of hot gas flowing to the left out of the opened end of the horseshoe; on the right, cold gas and dust which define the "horseshoe" absorbs the soft (red) X-rays, leaving the X-ray sources bluish. Chandra shows that such hot gas can play an important role in shaping such nebulae and perhaps in triggering the formation of new stars.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:27:17 EDT