N49 in X-Ray (Credit: X-ray: (NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al.); Optical: NASA/STScI/UIUC/Y.H.Chu & R.Williams et al)

Meet N49 (also known as LMC N49, or DEM L 190); a nebular region belonging to one of the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way.

Taken using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, this almost-malevolent-looking figure has taken on haunting appearance, but perhaps, in similar circumstances, we too would be worse for the wear. By ‘circumstances,’ I’m referencing the fact that this region is technically a supernova remnant, thus it didn’t exist until a massive star died a bloody, violent death.

[one_third last=”no”]Fast Facts:

  • The star has since converted into a neutron star.
  • This stellar corpse spins so quickly — with it completing one revolution every eight seconds — it generates a magnetic field more than a quadrillion times stronger than Earth’s.
  • This technically makes it a rare breed of star: a magnetar.
  • Moreover, astronomers point out that it’s a source of soft gamma-ray emissions, which are far less powerful than normal GBR

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To get a clear picture of just how violent and catastrophic we’re talking about, this region is not only the brightest remnant in the entirety of its parent dwarf galaxy, but it’s also one of the hottest. Inwardly, its temperatures hang around 1 million degrees. However, in contrast, its outer shell appears to be comprised of much cooler gas (these temperatures within vary from anywhere between 8,000 and 300,000 degrees).

Its temperature and luminosity will steadily decrease over time though, as the supernova that set “fire” to the ionized gas seen here ignited a little over 160,000 years ago (as a fun side-note, what might be the oldest human remains on record — with the exception of 8 teeth found in an Israeli cave — date back 160,000 years), the light from which just arrived on Earth. Similarly, if we could see it in real time, it would look drastically different to us.. maybe even unrecognizable. It will, however, give birth to new stars eventually.

It’s would likely still be pretty impressive in its own right based on size alone, as it spans well over 75 light-years across, in a portion of the sky inhabited by the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). (The satellite galaxy itself lies about 160,000 light-years from Earth in the Dorado constellation).

Learn more information here, or download a larger image here.


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