The Curious Case of the “Heartworm” Nebula

W. D. Cotton, F. Camilo, W. Becker, J. J. Condon, J. Forbrich, I. Heywood, B. Hugo, S. Legodi, T. Mauch, P. Predehl, P. Slane, M. A. Thompson

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The curious Galactic features near G357.2−0.2 were observed with the MeerKAT radio interferometer array in the UHF and L bands (0.56–1.68 GHz). There are two possibly related features: a newly identified faint heart-shaped partial shell (the “heart”), and a series of previously known but now much better imaged narrow, curved features (the “worm”) interior to the heart. Polarized emission suggests that much of the emission is nonthermal and is embedded in a dense plasma. The filaments of the worm appear to be magnetic structures powered by embedded knots that are sites of particle acceleration. The morphology of the worm broadly resembles some known pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe) but there is no known pulsar or PWN which could be powering this structure. We also present eROSITA observations of the field; no part of the nebula is detected in X-rays, but the current limits do not preclude the existence of a pulsar/PWN of intermediate spin-down luminosity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number78
Number of pages11
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2022


  • 320
  • Interstellar Matter and the Local Universe


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