Pushing the envelope

Oct 05, 2010
Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/T.Temim et al. and ESA/XMM-Newton Radio: SIFA/MOST and CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA; Infrared: UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF/2MASS

(PhysOrg.com) -- G327.1-1.1 is the aftermath of a massive star that exploded as a supernova in the Milky Way galaxy.

A highly magnetic, rapidly spinning neutron star called a pulsar was left behind after the explosion and is producing a wind of relativistic particles, seen in X-rays by Chandra and XMM-Newton (blue) as well as in the radio data (red and yellow). This structure is called a pulsar wind nebula. The likely location of the spinning neutron star is shown in the labeled version. The large red circle shows from the blast wave, and the composite image also contains infrared data from the 2MASS survey (red, green, and blue) that show the stars in the field.

No clear explanation is yet known for the unusual nature of G327.1-1.1, including the off-center position of the pulsar wind nebula seen in the radio data and the comet-like shape of the X-ray emission. One possibility is that we are seeing the effects of a shock wave bouncing backwards off of the shell of material swept up by the blast wave produced by the explosion, the so-called "reverse shock" from the blast wave. The pulsar is moving upwards, away from the center of the explosion, but the pulsar wind nebula is being swept towards the bottom-left of the image by the reverse shock wave that is also traveling towards the bottom-left. The direction of the pulsar's motion and of the reverse shock are shown in the labeled version.

The X-ray observations allow scientists to estimate the energy released during the and the age of the remnant, as well as the amount of material being swept up as the from the explosion expands. The faint bubble that the pulsar appears to be creating may also be revealing the fresh wind being blown into the region cleared out by the reverse shock.

Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/T.Temim et al. and ESA/XMM-Newton Radio: SIFA/MOST and CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA; Infrared: UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF/2MASS

A paper describing these results appeared in The in February 2009 with Tea Temim of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Patrick Slane (CfA), Bryan Gaensler (University of Sydney), Jack Hughes (Rutgers) and Eric Van Der Swaluw (Royal Netherlands Meterological Institute) as authors.

Explore further: Mixing in star-forming clouds explains why sibling stars look alike

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The Mouse That Soared

Sep 27, 2004

Astronomers have used an X-ray image to make the first detailed study of the behavior of high-energy particles around a fast moving pulsar. The image, from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows the shock ...

Fingers, Loops and Bays in the Crab Nebula

Nov 06, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- This image gives the first clear view of the faint boundary of the Crab Nebula's X-ray-emitting pulsar wind nebula. The nebula is powered by a rapidly-rotating, highly-magnetized neutron star, ...

Image: In the Constellation Cassiopeia

Jul 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Tycho's Supernova, the red circle visible in the upper left part of the image, is SN 1572 is a remnant of a star explosion is named after the astronomer Tycho Brahe, although he was not the ...

A young pulsar shows its hand

Apr 03, 2009

A small, dense object only twelve miles in diameter is responsible for this beautiful X-ray nebula that spans 150 light years. At the center of this image made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is a very ...

Recommended for you

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

Aug 29, 2014

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2010
"A highly magnetic, rapidly spinning neutron star called a pulsar was left behind after the explosion and is producing a wind of relativistic particles",

Strange! What could be the source of wind coming from a pulsar?

Hydrogen produced by decay of neutrons after their emission from the pulsar ["On the cosmic nuclear cycle and the similarity of nuclei and stars", Journal of Fusion Energy 25 (2006) 107-114]?

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo