W49B: A supernova remnant about 35,000 light years
Caption: This is a composite Chandra X-ray (blue)
and Palomar infrared (red and green) image that reveals a barrel-shaped
supernova remnant consisting of bright infrared rings around a glowing bar
of intense X-radiation. These X-rays are produced by jets of 15 million
degree Celsius gas that is rich in iron and nickel. These features indicate
that W49B was produced when the core of a rapidly-rotating massive star
collapsed to form a black hole, triggering the ejection of high-energy jets
of material. Such a sequence of events is consistent with the collapsar
model for gamma-ray bursts. If confirmed, the discovery of a relatively
nearby remnant of a gamma-ray burst would give scientists an excellent opportunity
to study the aftermath of one of nature's most violent explosions.
Scale: Image is 5.7 arcmin per side.
Chandra X-ray Observatory ACIS Image