Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-image of the day: cosmic cannonball RX J0822-4300

This composite of X-ray (pink) and optical (purple) images shows a "cosmic cannonball" fired from a supernova years ago and destined to escape the Milky Way. Astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory have been monitoring a neutron star for the past five years. Their observations show the neutron star moving at three million miles per hour, the fastest-moving star ever discovered:

Click the image to see the story.

Neutron star RX J0822-4300 was shot on its current trajectory by the supernova that created the Puppis A nebula (the wispy area in the photo). Because the explosion was lop-sided, the star was fired in one direction and the nebula (the outer shells of the star) in the other. This photo shows where to find RX J0822-4300:

Click the image to see the story.

A super-massive star goes supernova after its outer layers collapse inward, causing its core to implode, which blasts away its surface layers and forms a tiny neutron star from its core. The blasted-away material can travel at millions of miles per hour, but it does not always expand symmetrically, which could explain the cannonball effect propelling RX J0822-4300 in the opposite direction as the rest of the matter.

That there's some serious energy, folks. Cool beans.

Tags: astronomy

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