The Chandra Carina Complex Project: Deciphering the enigma of Carina's diffuse X-ray emission

Leisa K. Townsley, Patrick S. Broos, You Hua Chu, Marc Gagné, Gordon P. Garmire, Robert A. Gruendl, Kenji Hamaguchi, Mordecai Mark Mac Low, Thierry Montmerle, Yal Nazé, M. S. Oey, Sangwook Park, Robert Petre, Julian M. Pittard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a 1.42 deg2 mosaic of diffuse X-ray emission in the Great Nebula in Carina from the Chandra X-ray Observatory Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer camera. After removing >14,000 X-ray point sources from the field, we smooth the remaining unresolved emission, tessellate it into segments of similar apparent surface brightness, and perform X-ray spectral fitting on those tessellates to infer the intrinsic properties of the X-ray-emitting plasma. By modeling faint resolved point sources, we estimate the contribution to the extended X-ray emission from unresolved point sources and show that the vast majority of Carina's unresolved X-ray emission is truly diffuse. Line-like correlated residuals in the X-ray spectral fits suggest that substantial X-ray emission is generated by charge exchange at the interfaces between Carina's hot, rarefied plasma and its many cold neutral pillars, ridges, and clumps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2011


  • H ii regions
  • X-rays: ISM
  • X-rays: individual (Carina)
  • X-rays: stars
  • stars: massive
  • stars: winds, outflows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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