A surprising superbubble

This colourful new view shows the star-forming region LHA 120-N44 [1] in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. This picture combines the view in visible light from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile with images in infrared light and X-rays from orbiting satellite observatories.

At the centre of this very rich region of gas, dust and young stars lies the star cluster NGC 1929. Its massive stars produce intense radiation, expel matter at high speeds as stellar winds, and race through their short but brilliant lives to explode as supernovae. The winds and supernova shock waves have carved out a huge cavity, called a superbubble, in the surrounding gas.

Observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown here in blue) reveal hot regions created by these winds and shocks, while infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (shown in red) outline where the dust and cooler gas are found. The visible-light view from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope (in yellow) completes the picture and shows the hot young stars themselves as well as the glowing clouds of gas and dust that surround them.

Combining these different views of this dramatic region has allowed astronomers to solve a mystery: why are N44, and similar superbubbles, giving off such strong X-rays? The answer seems to be that there are two extra sources of bright X-ray emission: supernova shock waves striking the walls of the cavities, and hot material evaporating from the cavity walls. This X-ray emission from the edge of the superbubble shows up clearly in the picture.



[1] The designation of this object indicates that it was included in the Catalogue of H-alpha emission stars and nebulae in the Magellanic Clouds, compiled and published in 1956 by American astronomer–astronaut Karl Henize (1926–1993). The letter “N” indicates that it is a nebula. The object is often called simply N44.


Optical: ESO, X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Mich./S.Oey, IR: NASA/JPL 

Riguardo l'immagine

Data di rilascio:Lunedì 03 Settembre 2012 10:00
Grandezza:3600 x 2874 px

Riguardo all'oggetto

Nome:LHA 120-N 44, NGC 1929
Tipo:Local Universe : Nebula : Type : Star Formation
Distanza:150000 Anni luce

Formati delle immagini

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Position (RA):5 21 37.98
Position (Dec):-67° 54' 42.75"
Field of view:25.28 x 20.18 arcminutes
Orientazione:Il Nord è a 0.1° a destra della verticale

Colori e filtri

Raggio XChandra X-ray Observatory
OtticoMPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope
Infrarosso Spitzer Space Telescope


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