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More Images of McNeil's Nebula
Chandra X-ray Image of McNeil's Nebula
A young star at the apex of McNeil's Nebula was observed to brighten dramatically in X-ray, optical and infrared wavelengths, illuminating the nebula. The X-ray data are strong evidence that the probable cause of the outburst is the sudden infall of gas onto the surface of the star from an orbiting disk of gas. Accumulation of more gas in the disk could lead to a new outburst in the future. This scenario could explain why the brightness of McNeil's Nebula appears to vary with time.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/RIT/J.Kastner et al.)
Scale: Image is 170 by 130 arcsec

KPNO Optical Image of McNeil's Nebula
McNeil's Nebula was discovered with a 3-inch telescope by amateur astronomer Jay McNeil in January 2004. A young star buried deep in a cloud had brightened suddenly, illuminating the nebula. This optical image of McNeil's Nebula and the surrounding area was taken by the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO). The image on the left is a wide field of view, while the zoomed-in version on the right shows a field of view similar to the Chandra data.
(Credit: NSF/NOAO/KPNO/A.Block et al.)
Scale: Left image is 11.7 by 7.8 arcmin; Right image is 135 by 90 arcsec

Chandra X-ray Image with Optical Contours of McNeil's Nebula
The Chandra data is overlaid with contours from a short-exposure (10 sec) image of the nebula obtained with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT and Chandra images were obtained on February 18 and March 7, 2004, respectively. The Chandra image is color-coded for energy (red = 0.5-1.5 keV; green = 1.5-2.4 keV; blue = 2.4-8.0 keV). Note the predominance of high-energy X-rays (blue) from source 3 (named CXO J054613.1-000604), which lies at the apex of McNeil's Nebula. Names for the other sources in the field are as follows:
source 1 = CXO J054619.4-000519;
source 2 = CXO J054618.8-000537;
and source 4 = CXO J054611.6-000627.
(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIT/J.Kastner et al.; Optical: ESO/VLT/)

Return to McNeil's Nebula (22 Jul 04)