A dazzling tapestry of space unfolds in a vibrant, multispectral image capturing the remnants of at least two exploded stars within the supernova remnant known as 30 Doradus B (30 Dor B). Located 160,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, this complex region showcases a continuous stellar formation spanning 8 to 10 million years.
Composed from a harmonious blend of data, the image combines X-ray insights from NASA’s Chandra Observatory (depicted in purple), optical brilliance from the Blanco 4-meter telescope in Chile (presented in orange and cyan), and the infrared glow captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (illustrated in red). Black and white highlights from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope accentuate sharp features.
Astronomers, led by Wei-An Chen from the National Taiwan University, meticulously analyzed over two million seconds of Chandra observations. Their findings revealed a vast shell of X-rays stretching approximately 130 light-years across, emanating from the pulsar winds within 30 Dor B. The study concludes that the intricate features observed cannot be attributed to a single supernova event.
The researchers propose that both the central pulsar and the intense X-rays originated from a supernova explosion around 5,000 years ago. However, the expansive, faint X-ray shell suggests additional supernova events, possibly more than 5,000 years old, contributing to the celestial spectacle. This discovery sheds light on the dynamic lives of massive stars and the profound impact of their supernova explosions.
Published in the Astronomical Journal, the research paper authored by Wei-An Chen and collaborators provides a captivating glimpse into the cosmic ballet unfolding in 30 Dor B. Managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the Chandra program is overseen by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center, guiding scientific and flight operations from Massachusetts.