Space odyssey

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Date:16 January 2012 Tags:

Arp 147 interacting galaxies
A composite image of Arp 147, a pair of interacting galaxies located about 430 million lightyears from Earth, shows X-rays from Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink) and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, blue) produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Arp 147 contains the remnant of a spiral galaxy (right) that collided with the elliptical galaxy on the left. This collision has produced an expanding wave of star formation that shows up as a blue ring containing an abundance of massive young stars. These stars race through their evolution in a few million years or less and explode as supernovas, leaving behind neutron stars and black holes.

A fraction of the neutron stars and black holes will have companion stars, and may become bright X-ray sources as they pull in matter from their companions. The nine X-ray sources scattered around the ring in Arp 147 are so bright that they must be black holes, with masses that are probably 10 to 20 times that of the Sun. An X-ray source is also detected in the nucleus of the red galaxy on the left and may be powered by a poorly fed supermassive black hole.

Credit: X-ray: Nasa/CXC/MIT/S Rappaport et al; Optical: Nasa/STScI

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