Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chandra Sheds New Light On McNeil's Nebula

Date:
July 29, 2004
Source:
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
Summary:
The X-ray/optical comparison of the region surrounding McNeil's Nebula shows that the position of a source detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is coincident with that of a bright infrared and optical source at the apex of the nebula.

Chandra X-ray Observatory Image of X-ray outburst from young star in McNeil's Nebula.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center

The X-ray/optical comparison of the region surrounding McNeil's Nebula shows that the position of a source detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is coincident with that of a bright infrared and optical source at the apex of the nebula. Source 3 is thought to be a very young star and is illuminating the fan-shaped cloud of gas, or nebula. The others sources in the field, labeled 1, 2, and 4, are other young, X-ray emitting stars in the region.

The small nebula, which lies in the constellation Orion about 1300 light years from Earth, was discovered with a 3-inch telescope by amateur astronomer Jay McNeil in January 2004. A young star buried deep in a cloud had brightened suddenly, illuminating the nebula. The coincident X-ray source was also observed to brighten fifty-fold as measured in Chandra observations obtained before and just after the optical outburst. The X-ray data are strong evidence that the probable cause of the outburst is the sudden infall of matter onto the surface of the star from an orbiting disk of gas.

The coupling of the magnetic field of the star and the magnetic field of its circumstellar disk regulates the inflow of gas from the disk onto the star. This slow, steady inflow suddenly can become much more rapid if a large amount of gas accumulates in the disk, and the disk and the star are rotating at different rates.

The differing rotation rates can twist and shear the magnetic field, storing up energy. This energy is eventually released in an energetic, X-ray producing outburst as the magnetic field violently rearranges back to a more stable state. During this period, a large amount of gas can fall onto the star, producing the observed optical and infrared outburst.

A new buildup of gas in the disk could lead to a new outburst in the future. Such a scenario may explain why the brightness of McNeil's Nebula appears to vary with time. It appears in optical images taken of this region of Orion in the 1960s, but is absent from images taken in the 1950s and 1990s.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA. (NASA/CXC/RIT/J. Kastner et al.)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "Chandra Sheds New Light On McNeil's Nebula." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040729094140.htm>.
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. (2004, July 29). Chandra Sheds New Light On McNeil's Nebula. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040729094140.htm
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "Chandra Sheds New Light On McNeil's Nebula." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040729094140.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) After a 10-month voyage through space, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is now orbiting the Red Planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

AFP (Sep. 21, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo ship blasts off toward the International Space Station, carrying a load of supplies and science experiments for the astronauts living there. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's MAVEN To Study Martian Atmosphere

NASA's MAVEN To Study Martian Atmosphere

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) NASA's Maven will soon give information that could explain what happened to Mars' atmosphere. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins