X-rays shine as stars are torn apart


In the merging galaxies of Arp 299, binary systems produce bright, bright X-rays.


The colliding galaxies of Arp 299.
The colliding galaxies of Arp 299.
X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Crete/K. Anastasopoulou et al, NASA/NuSTAR/GSFC/A. Ptak et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

Arp 299 is a system of two merging galaxies about 140 million light years away. The process of the collision means that conditions are good for forming new stars. Among these new stars are 25 bright X-ray sources (seen as pink dots in the image above) that are most likely binary systems in which a black hole or neutron star is pulling matter away from a companion star.

This new composite image of Arp 299 combines data from three space-based telescopes: X-rays from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink), higher-energy X-rays from NuSTAR (purple), and optical from the Hubble Space Telescope (white and faint brown).

An analysis of the Chandra data will soon be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. A preprint is already available.

  1. https://arxiv.org/abs/1605.07001
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