Three telescopes have spotted a bright new star in the heavens—a young pulsar surrounded by the remains of a supernova. Pulsars are the spinning cores of dead stars that ended their lives in huge explosions.
Revealed by x-ray data, the newfound pulsar is the blue-tinged point of light seen at the upper right of the frame. Optical data show that the stellar corpse is encased in a shell of dust and gas—the first time such an object has been found in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The picture also shows the intricate structure of a nearby star-forming region.
(Find out more about the Magellanic clouds in National Geographic magazine.)
The above picture, released this week, combines x-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton space telescope with visible-light data from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.