Monday, January 30, 2012

ESA INTEGRAL: reveals new facets of the Vela pulsar wind nebula

This image shows the Vela pulsar wind nebula as observed with ESA's INTEGRAL observatory (blue pixellated image) and with other high-energy astronomical facilities (coloured contours).

The INTEGRAL image shows emission detected at hard X-ray energies, between 18 and 40 keV, with the IBIS imager on board INTEGRAL, after subtraction of the point-like source corresponding to the inner nebula.

The contours show soft X-ray emission detected by the German ROSAT telescope between 0.5 and 2 keV (green) and by the Birmingham Spacelab 2 telescope between 2.5 and 12 keV (cyan), and very-high energy gamma-ray emission detected with the H.E.S.S. Telescopes above 1 TeV (magenta).

The Vela pulsar wind nebula is a cloud of highly energetic electrons and positrons that are injected by the pulsar into its surroundings and radiate across the electromagnetic spectrum. The location of the Vela pulsar is marked with a cross.

The image measures roughly two degrees on the horizontal side. North is up and East is to the left. Copyright: ESA/INTEGRAL/IBIS-ISGRI/F. Mattana et al./ROSAT/H.E.S.S. /Spacelab 2.

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