Image: Chandra Observatory sees a heart in the darkness

Feb 17, 2014
Credit: NASA/CXC/U.Liege/Y.Nazé et al.

This Chandra X-Ray Observatory image of the young star cluster NGC 346 highlights a heart-shaped cloud of 8 million-degree Celsius gas in the central region. Evidence from radio, optical and ultraviolet telescopes suggests that the hot cloud, which is about 100 light years across, is the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred thousands of years ago.

The progenitor could have been a companion of the massive young star that is responsible for the bright X-ray source at the top center of the image. This young star, HD 5980, one of the most massive known, has been observed to undergo dramatic eruptions during the last decade.

An alternative model for the origin of the hot cloud is that eruptions of HD 5980 long ago produced the cloud of hot gas, in a manner similar to the observed around the massive star Eta Carinae.

Future observations will be needed to decide between the alternatives. Until then, the nature of the heart in the darkness will remain mysterious.

Explore further: Dwarf galaxy caught ramming into a large spiral

Provided by NASA Image of the Day

4.8 /5 (5 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dwarf galaxy caught ramming into a large spiral

Aug 14, 2013

Observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed a massive cloud of multimillion-degree gas in a galaxy about 60 million light years from Earth. The hot gas cloud is likely caused by a collision ...

Young stars paint spectacular stellar landscape

Nov 13, 2013

Astronomers at ESO have captured the best image so far of the clouds around the star cluster NGC 3572. This image shows how these clouds of gas and dust have been sculpted into bubbles, arcs and the odd features ...

Preserving the legacy of the X-ray universe

Oct 29, 2013

Every year, October is designated as American Archive Month. While many people may think "archive" means only dusty books and letters, there are, in fact, many other types of important archives. This includes ...

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Apr 18, 2014

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Apr 18, 2014

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.