Optical and Chandra images of McNeil's Nebula
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIT/J.Kastner et al.; Optical: NSF/NOAO/KPNO/A.Block et al.

Outburst from a Young Star

The unchanging heavens are actually quite dynamic. One particular change in the heavens was the rare appearance of a new nebula around a young star in the constellation of Orion. This nebula, shown above, is called McNeil's Nebula, for Jay McNeil, an amateur astronomer who discovered it in January 2004 using a 3-inch telescope. Along with the appearance of this nebula, a Chandra observation showed that the X-ray emission from the erupting star increased fifty-fold. The X-ray observations suggest that outburst is produced by the sudden infall of matter from an orbiting disk of gas onto the surface of the star.

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