NuSTAR Finds a Pulse in Cigar Galaxy

Nustar_nustar141008a_1024

nustar_nustar141008a October 8th, 2014

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO/NOAO

High-energy X-rays streaming from a rare and mighty pulsar (magenta), the brightest found to date, can be seen in this new image combining multi-wavelength data from three telescopes. The bulk of a galaxy called Messier 82 (M82), or the "Cigar galaxy," is seen in visible-light data captured by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory's 2.1-meter telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona. Starlight is white, and lanes of dust appear brown. Low-energy X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory are colored blue, and higher-energy X-ray data from NuSTAR are pink.

The magenta object is what's known as an ultraluminous X-ray source, or ULX -- a source of blazing X-rays. Previously, all ULXs were suspected to be massive black holes up to a few hundred times the mass of the sun. But NuSTAR spotted a pulsing of X-rays from this ULX (called M82 X-2) - a telltale sign of a pulsar, not a black hole. A pulsar is a type a neutron star -- a stellar core left over from a supernova explosion -- that sends out rotating beams of high-energy radiation. Scientists were surprised to find the pulsar at the root of the ULX because it shines with a luminosity that is more typical of heftier black holes.

NuSTAR data covers the X-ray energy range of 10 to 40 kiloelectron volts (keV), and Chandra covers the range .1 to 10 keV.

Image Source: /image/nustar/nustar141008a

Curator: NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, Pasadena, CA

Image Use Policy: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/

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Image Details

Image Type
Collage
Object Name
Cigar Galaxy Messier 82 M82 NGC 3034
Subject - Milky Way
Galaxy > Type > Irregular
Galaxy > Activity > Starburst

Distance

Universescale2
11,700,000 light years
Nustar_nustar141008a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 9h 55m 51.2s
DEC = 69° 40’ 45.5”
Orientation
North is up
Constellation
Ursa Major

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_magenta NuSTAR X-ray 62.0 pm
Arrow_left_cyan Chandra (ACIS) X-ray 413.3 pm
Arrow_left_blue KPNO-2.1m Optical 440.0 nm
Arrow_left_green KPNO-2.1m Optical 700.0 nm
Arrow_left_red KPNO-2.1m X-ray 900.0 nm
Spectrum_xray1w
Arrow_top_magenta
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Nustar_nustar141008a_1280
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ID
nustar141008a
Subject Category
B.5.1.6   B.5.3.3  
Subject Name
Cigar Galaxy, Messier 82, M82, NGC 3034
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO/NOAO
Release Date
2014-10-08
Lightyears
11,700,000
Redshift
0.000677
Reference Url
/image/nustar/nustar141008a
Type
Collage
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
NuSTAR, Chandra, KPNO-2.1m, KPNO-2.1m, KPNO-2.1m
Instrument
-, ACIS
Color Assignment
Magenta, Cyan, Blue, Green, Red
Band
X-ray, X-ray, Optical, Optical, X-ray
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
0.061992, 0.41328, 440, 700, 900
Start Time
2002-03-06T07:22
Integration Time
1.
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
148.9632870, 69.6792982
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
-0.01
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Position
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array
URL
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
Country
Rights
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/
Publisher
Publisher ID
nustar
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/nustar/nustar141008a
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2018-01-19T23:08:03Z
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
11,700,000 light years