The star cluster Westerlund 1 and the positions of the magnetar and its probable former companion star

This image of the young star cluster Westerlund 1 was taken with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Although most stars in the cluster are hot blue supergiants, they appear reddish in this image as they are seen through interstellar dust and gas. European astronomers have for the first time demonstrated that the magnetar in this cluster — an unusual type of neutron star with an extremely strong magnetic field — probably was formed as part of a binary star system. The discovery of the magnetar’s former companion (Westerlund 1-5) elsewhere in the cluster helps solve the mystery of how a star that started off so massive could become a magnetar, rather than collapse into a black hole.

Credit:

ESO

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About the Image

Id:eso1415b
Type:Observation
Release date:14 May 2014, 12:00
Related releases:eso1415
Size:1261 x 1261 px

About the Object

Name:Westerlund 1
Type:• Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Cluster
• X - Star Clusters
Distance:15000 light years
Constellation:Ara

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Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
451 nm MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope
WFI
Optical
V
539 nm MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope
WFI
Optical
R
651 nm MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope
WFI

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