NASA Telescope Captures X-Ray of Neighboring Andromeda Galaxy

Nasa’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) captured the best X-ray image of the Andromeda galaxy yet.

NASA1

The Andromeda Galaxy is approximately 2.5 million light-years away and spans 260,000 light-years across. The wisps of blue making up the galaxy’s spiral arms are neighborhoods that harbor hot, young, massive stars. The central orange-white ball reveals a congregation of cooler, old stars that formed long ago.

NuSTAR’s view (above) shows X-rays coming from pairs of stars, known as binaries, one half of the pair is a dead star. The dead star is either a black hole or a neutron star feeding off their healthy star partner.

The X-ray will help astronomers learn more about the evolution of the Milky Way’s big sister galaxy, Andromeda. These energetic objects may play a critical role in heating the intergalactic bath of gas in which the very first galaxies formed, according to NASA.

“We have come to realize in the past few years that it is likely the lower-mass remnants of normal stellar evolution, the black holes and neutron stars, may play a crucial role in heating of the intergalactic gas at very early times in the universe, around the cosmic dawn,” Ann Hornschemeier, principal investigator of the NuSTAR Andromeda studies said.

“Studying the extreme stellar populations in Andromeda tells us about how its history of forming stars may be different than in our neighborhood,” said Harrison.

Read more from the Orlando Sentinel. 

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