Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First 'Garden Hose’ Jet Trail Nebula Discovered

Date:
April 23, 2009
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
Using the NASA Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, a team of astronomers have discovered an object predicted, but never seen before – a ‘jet trail’ nebula. The nebula represents a completely new class of object.

The fan-like nebulosity is clearly visible in this image from the ESO 3.6-m telescope. The powerful jets emitted by the X-ray binary (which itself is too faint to see in this image) crash into the interstellar medium. Because this X-ray binary is moving quickly through space, it has a fast proper motion and drags these "impact points" along with it. This leaves two long "trails" behind: the two stripes of emission seen running diagonally across the image.
Credit: K. Wiersema / ESO / University of Leicester

Using the NASA Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, a team of astronomers have discovered an object predicted, but never seen before – a ‘jet trail’ nebula.

Team leader Dr Klaas Wiersema of the University of Leicester will present the discovery on Wednesday 22nd April at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science conference at the University of Hertfordshire.

The RXTE satellite has been scanning the centre of our galaxy every few days for the last years, searching for variable X-ray sources. Through these scans it has found a multitude of varying X-ray sources, most of which are thought to be X-ray binaries. These systems consist of a compact star (a neutron star or black hole) that pulls material away from a "normal" companion star. This material forms hot disks, which emit X-rays. X-ray binaries are also known to spout jets of gas at velocities very close to the speed of light.

While most of them are highly variable in intensity, there is also a subclass found by RXTE which is nearly constant in brightness and rather faint. It is this class of sources that Dr Wiersema and his team set out to study. They obtained accurate positions of the X-ray sources using the NASA Chandra X-ray space telescope and used the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-m telescope at La Silla in Chile to search for the corresponding optical signals. The sources were then confirmed as X-ray binaries.

But one of these sources surprised the team. In addition to a faint optical source a bright large nebula (cloud of gas and dust) was visible on the optical images. This nebula consists of two stripes, and is like no other nebula seen before – it is a completely new class of object.

Careful measurements of the shape of the nebula helped the team to understand the origin of the nebula: it appears to be made by the powerful jets of the X-ray binary. The jets of the binary slam into the interstellar medium (ISM - the tenuous gas between the stars), where they make the gas radiate. As the binary moves rapidly through the galaxy, the jet-ISM interaction points move with it, creating the so-called "jet trails" we see in the image.

These trails had been predicted by theorists in the past, but despite searches were not seen before in other sources, as they require a rare set of circumstances to form: the X-ray binary has to move very rapidly (in this case about 100 km per second across the line of sight), and the interstellar medium has to be denser than normal.

Dr Wiersema compares the nebula pattern to garden hoses on soil. “Imagine holding two powerful hoses, pointing to the ground. Where the water hits the ground, mud splashes up. If you stand still, a large circular patch of mud would form and slowly spread out. But if you walk quickly across the garden, you make two parallel stripes of mud. The jets from the X-ray binary make the nebula in the same way.”

The accidental discovery of this nebula gives astronomers a powerful new tool to help them understand how X-ray binaries live their life. The power of the jet now and in the past can be derived from the shape and brightness of the nebula and shapes a new view of the way X-ray binaries produce these jets.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). The original article was written by Robert Massey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "First 'Garden Hose’ Jet Trail Nebula Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422085839.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2009, April 23). First 'Garden Hose’ Jet Trail Nebula Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422085839.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "First 'Garden Hose’ Jet Trail Nebula Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422085839.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. 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