Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spectacular X-ray tails surprise astronomers

Date:
January 23, 2010
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Astronomer were surprised to find two distinct "tails" found on a long tail of gas that is believed to be forming stars where few stars have been formed before. What is also unusual is the gas tail, which is more than 200,000 light years in length, extends well outside any galaxy.

MSU's Megan Donahue was part of an international team of astronomers that viewed this rare double-tailed gas cloud.
Credit: Photo courtesy of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Astronomer were surprised to find two distinct "tails" found on a long tail of gas that is believed to be forming stars where few stars have been formed before.

"The double tail is very cool -- that is, interesting -- and ridiculously hard to explain," said Donahue, a professor in MSU's Department of Physics and Astronomy. "It could be two different sources of gas or something to do with magnetic fields. We just don't know."

What is also unusual is the gas tail, which is more than 200,000 light years in length, extends well outside any galaxy. It is within objects such as this that new stars are formed, but usually within the confines of a galaxy.

"This system is really crazy because where we're seeing the star formation is well away from any galaxy," Donahue said. "Star formation happens primarily in the disks of galaxies. What we're seeing here is very unexpected."

Michigan State University astronomer Megan Donahue was part of an international team of astronomers that viewed the gas tail with a very long, new observation made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and detailed it in a paper published this month in the publication Astrophysical Journal.

This gas tail was originally spotted by astronomers three years ago using a multitude of telescopes, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the SOuthern Astrophysical Research telescope, a Chilean-based observatory in which MSU is one of the partners. The new observations show a second tail, and a fellow galaxy, ESO 137-002, that also has a tail of hot X-ray-emitting gas.

How these newly formed stars came to be in this particular place remains a mystery as well. Astronomers theorize this gas tail might have "pulled" star-making material from nearby gases, creating what some have called "orphan stars."

"This system continues to surprise us as we get better observations of it," Donahue said.

The gas tail is located in the southern hemisphere near a constellation called Triangulum Australe, in a giant cluster of galaxies called Abell 3627. It is associated with a galaxy known as ESO 137-001 which is about 219 million light years from our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Star formation is a continuous process throughout the universe, where there are estimated to be billions of galaxies, each of which contains billions of stars. Stars are formed from clouds of dusty, cool, dense molecular gas. Molecular gas clouds prefer to inhabit galaxies, particularly the disks of galaxies like the Milky Way.

Our sun, a star located within the Milky Way Galaxy, is an average-size star estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Spectacular X-ray tails surprise astronomers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100122114434.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2010, January 23). Spectacular X-ray tails surprise astronomers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100122114434.htm
Michigan State University. "Spectacular X-ray tails surprise astronomers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100122114434.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017, opening the way to a new chapter in human spaceflight. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
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