Supernovae Blowing Superbubbles in the Small Magellanic Cloud

Article written: 31 Aug , 2007
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015

At a distance of only 200,000 light years, the Small Magellanic Cloud is one of the Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbours. Thanks to its brutal treatment by our galaxy’s gravity, the galaxy has massive regions of active star formation, and regular supernova explosions. Astronomers studied the region with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and saw superbubbles formed by stars and supernovae working together.

The region that Chandra focused in on is known as LHa115-N19, or N19 for short. It’s an area in the Small Magellanic Cloud which is rich in ionized hydrogen gas. There are many massive stars forming in the region, and many more supernova remnants – all that remain from the short-lived stars that formed in this rich nursery.

Astronomers combined images from Chandra with data gathered in other wavelengths. And when they did this, they found evidence for so-called superbubbles. These are formed when smaller cavities created by stars and detonating supernovae combine together to create gigantic cavities.

In just one small region, the Chandra data reveals three supernovae explosions clustered together; well, the supernova remnants, anyway. There are even hints in the data that the stars were associated with one another, forming together from the same interstellar cloud, and then dying together.

Original Source: Chandra News Release

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