Credit: You-Hua Chu (Univ. of Illinois), Steve Snowden (USRA/GSFC/LHEA)

A High Resolution X-ray Map of the LMC

The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is a satellite galaxy orbiting the Milky Way; at a distance of 171,000 lightyears it's the closest galaxy to us. The LMC is rich in gas and dust and an active site of star formation. This star formation activity leads to very violent high temperature emissions which can be detected by X-ray observatories. X-ray emission provides a peek into these violent processes, from the explosive stellar flares of very young stars, to the energetic shocks produced by strong stellar winds of very massive stars, to supernovae of older stars (and the interactions of their ejecta with the rest of the galaxy). The image on the above left is a false-color X-ray map of the LMC obtained by the High Resolution Imager (HRI) on the ROSAT X-ray satellite observatory during the 1995-1998 interval. This map is the finest X-ray map of the LMC ever obtained in terms of spatial resolution (a mapping of the LMC with the ROSAT Position Sensitive Proportional Counter was also obtained; this PSPC map has poorer spatial imaging, but better energy sensitivity). The bright pointlike sources consist of normal stars and star clusters, X-ray bright compact objects (like neutron stars and black holes), and at least one known soft gamma ray repeater, SGR 0526-66. In addition, extended X-ray emission powered by remnants of supernovae (including SN 1987A, the brightest, nearest supernova in over 400 years) and the collision of stellar winds with interstellar clouds in the LMC can also be seen. The image on the right is a "negative" optical image of the HRI X-ray field, stitched together from the Digitized Sky Survey made available by the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Last Week * HEA Dictionary * Archive * Search HEAPOW * Education

Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified May 26, 2001