NASA’s Chandra program released a very nice picture of a Superbubble in the Large Magellanic Clouds today.
This superbubble is designated DEM L50 and is found in the Large Magellanic Clouds like the last superbubble we covered back at the end of August. Back then I didnt really go into exactly what a superbubble actually is, so this is a great time to do so.
The image is a composite image of optical wavelengths (from the University of Michigan’s 0.9-meter Curtis Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observator) as the normal colour parts of this image with the X-ray wavelengths overlaid in pink from Chandra.
Simply put, superbubbles are normally the remnant gasses of a supernova that has dispersed over time to form a bubble of reasonably coherent gas, displacing the interstellar matter that was there already. These gasses are very hot and retain that temperature for a long time, and since they are very energetic they emit X-rays that we can pick up with instruments like the Chandra probe.
Our own solar system sits within the center of an old bubble called (very imaginatively) the Local Bubble – a region of gas thought to have been formed about ten to twenty million years ago by a supernova in the Pleiades cluster that the Earth has since moved into due to the Sun’s orbit around the galactic center.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL, Chandra.