NASA Chandra sees the catastrophic past of the Zeta Ophiuchi star

Located about 440 light-years from Earth, Zeta Ophiuchi is a hot star with a complex past. The massive luminary was probably ejected from its birthplace as a result of a powerful supernova explosion. According to preliminary measurements, an explosion about a million years ago pushed the Zeta Ophiuchi at a speed of about 160 thousand km/h, and completely destroyed its partner.

In this image, a curved red shock wave of red light is repelled by a brilliant blue star surrounded by a ghostly green cloud of gas. Authorship: NASA/CXC/Dublin Institute

A new simulation created by NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory helps tell more about the history of this runaway star. The new combined image shows a shock wave (red and green) formed by a substance blown off the surface of the luminary, colliding with interstellar gas on its way. According to Chandra, the star is surrounded by a bubble of X-ray radiation (blue), which was created by gas heated to tens of millions of degrees by a shock wave.

A team of astronomers from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Study in Ireland has created the first comprehensive computer simulation of a shock wave. This was necessary to check how well the models correspond to the observations using X-ray, optical, infrared and radio waves.

A shock wave formed while moving in interstellar space by a fleeing Zeta Ophiuchi star. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

Computer models have found a difference from what astronomers have seen. All three different simulations provided for X-rays that were weaker than what was observed. It was brightest near the star, while two of the three computer models suggested that the X-ray radiation should be brighter near the shock wave.

In the future, scientists plan to test more complex models with additional physics, including the effects of turbulence and particle acceleration. They are keen to see if the alignment with the X-ray data will improve.

Earlier, astronomers made a stunning discovery in a cosmic particle accelerator.

According to Techexplorist

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