Discovered more than 100 years ago, this glowing nebula is a small galaxy about 2.2 million light years from Earth. Known as the “starburst” galaxy IC 10, referring to the intense star formation activity occurring there, observations from our Chandra X-Ray Observatory that span a decade, have found the galaxy is home to over a dozen black holes and neutron stars feeding off gas from young, massive stellar companions.
Starburst galaxies like this are excellent places to search for double star systems (aka X-ray binaries) because they are churning out stars rapidly. Many of these newly born stars will be pairs of young and massive stars. The most massive of the pair will evolve more quickly and leave behind a black hole or a neutron star partnered with the remaining massive star. If the separation of the stars is small enough, an X-ray binary system will be produced.
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass Lowell/S. Laycock et al.; Optical: Bill Synder Astrophotography
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