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Waspie_Dwarf

A New Look at a Close Neighbor

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Andromeda Galaxy (M31):
A New Look at a Close Neighbor


linked-image
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MPE/W.Pietsch et al; Optical: NOAO/AURA/NSF/T.Rector & B.A.Wolpa


Andromeda, the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way, is shown here in this wide-field optical image from Kitt Peak. The central region of Andromeda is shown in a composite image, with X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) combined with the optical image. Astronomers believe that Andromeda, also known as Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and the Milky Way will merge in a few billion years.

In the composite image, hot, X-ray bright gas is seen to envelop the central region of Andromeda. Point sources are also prominent, mostly from pairs of stars that are interacting with each other. Many of these double stars are thought to include white dwarfs that are pulling large amounts of material away from a companion star. When the amount of gas being dumped onto the white dwarf gets too high a thermonuclear explosion occurs on the surface of the white dwarf, emitting bright X-rays.

By taking multiple observations of these so-called novae with Chandra and ESA's XMM-Newton observatories, a team of astronomers studied how long the burst of X-ray emission lasts. They found that several novae are bright in X-rays for surprisingly short periods of time, suggesting that the corresponding nova explosions were missed in earlier observations. Such short periods of bright X-ray emission, according to theoretical calculations, indicate that the white dwarfs have relatively high masses. This makes them good candidates for progenitors of Type Ia supernovas, where a white dwarf reaches a mass limit and undergoes a thermonuclear explosion and is completely destroyed. The high masses suggested by the short X-ray outbursts suggests that the white dwarfs do not have to gain very much mass before reaching their limit and being destroyed. A long-running goal in stellar astrophysics has been to identify the elusive stars that explode as Type Ia supernovas.


Source: Chandra - Photo Album Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted (edited)

More Images of Andromeda Galaxy (M31)


linked-image
Chandra X-ray Image of Andromeda Galaxy (M31)
In this Chandra X-ray image of the Andromeda Galaxy, hot, X-ray bright gas is seen to envelop the middle of Andromeda. Point sources are also prominent, which mostly reveal pairs of stars that are interacting with each other. Many of these double stars are thought to include white dwarfs pulling large amounts of material away from a companion star. When the amount of gas being dumped onto the white dwarf gets too high a thermonuclear explosion occurs on the surface of the white dwarf, emitting bright X-rays.
Scale: Image is 12.8 by 9.7 arcmin
(Credit: NASA/CXC/MPE/W.Pietsch et al)


linked-image
Optical Image of Andromeda Galaxy (M31)
This optical image of Adromeda was taken by the National Science Foundation's 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Located in the constellation of Andromeda (the Princess), the Andromeda Galaxy is a large spiral galaxy very similar to our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. Also known as Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the Andromeda Galaxy is over 65,000 light years in diameter and approximately 2.9 million light years from Earth.
(Credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF/T.Rector & B.A.Wolpa)


Source: Chandra - Photo Album Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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