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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here are a few pretty astronomical images that are Valentine themed!

This image shows a ring… of black holes!

Giant Ring of Black Holes
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/S.Rappaport et al, Optical: NASA/STScI

This object is known as Arp 147 – it’s actually a pair of interacting galaxies, a spiral one on the right, that collided with the elliptical one on the left. The image contains X-ray data from Chandra (pink), and optical data from the Hubble (red, green, blue). The collision caused a wave of star formation visible here as a blue ring containing many massive young stars. In just a few million years, these stars can speed through their evolutionary cycle, exploding as supernovae and leaving neutron stars and black holes behind! Neutron stars and black holes that have companion stars can become bright sources of X-rays. You can see nine (pink) X-ray sources scattered around the blue ring. They are so bright in X-rays that they are likely black holes. There is more information on the Chandra site.

Here’s one more image brought to our attention by our friends at NASA Universe Education.

Credit: NASA/CXC/U.Liege/Y.Naz´e et al.

I like the caption as written by the HEASARC picture of the week, so here it is:

As a couple of old stars swing around each other, doing Newton’s gravitational tango, their warm breath generates intense heat. These stars, the bright red dot at the top of the heart-shaped cloud of gas in the Chandra X-ray Telescope image above, are a binary system called HD 5980 located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, the Milky Way’s companion. The couple in HD 5980 are a pair of evolved massive stars with strong stellar winds, and unstable to boot. The light-driven winds which blow off their surfaces meet in between the two and release kinetic energy as heat, raising the temperature in the collision to millions of degrees. This hot gas generates the enormous amounts of X-radiation seen by Chandra. The large glowing heart-shaped X-ray nebula surrounding HD 5980 has a somewhat mysterious origin. It could have been produced a sudden outburst of HD 5980 when the stars were younger and more temperamental. Or it may be the final valentine left behind by the supernova of another hot-headed star in a volatile, three-body encounter.


  • Logan Berard says:

    So far,you’ve shown some things I’ve never seen before.Im looking forward to more.

  • christina thomas says:

    The things that men – and of course, women! – have been able to accomplish with our small heads are simply amazing! Happy Valentines Day even though its months away…

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