The integrated diffuse X-ray emission of the Carina Nebula compared to other massive star-forming regions

Leisa K. Townsley, Patrick S. Broos, You Hua Chu, Robert A. Gruendl, M. S. Oey, Julian M. Pittard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Chandra Carina Complex Project (CCCP) has shown that the Carina Nebula displays bright, spatially-complex soft diffuse X-ray emission. Here, we "sum up" the CCCP diffuse emission work by comparing the global morphology and spectrum of Carina's diffuse X-ray emission to other famous sites of massive star formation with pronounced diffuse X-ray emission: M17, NGC 3576, NGC 3603, and 30 Doradus. All spectral models require at least two diffuse thermal plasma components to achieve adequate spectral fits, a softer component with kT = 0.2-0.6 keV and a harder component with kT = 0.5-0.9 keV. In several cases these hot plasmas appear to be in a state of non-equilibrium ionization that may indicate recent and current strong shocks. A cavity north of the embedded giant H II region NGC 3576 is the only region studied here that exhibits hard diffuse X-ray emission; this emission appears to be nonthermal and is likely due to a recent cavity supernova, as evidenced by a previously-known pulsar and a newly-discovered pulsar wind nebula also seen in this cavity. All of these targets exhibit X-ray emission lines that are not well modeled by variable-abundance thermal plasmas and that might be attributed to charge exchange at the shock between the hot, tenuous, X-ray-emitting plasma and cold, dense molecular material; this is likely evidence for dust destruction at the many hot/cold interfaces that characterize massive star-forming regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Hii regions
  • X-rays: individual (Carina, M17, NGC 3576, NGC 3603, 30 Doradus)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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