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This is the result of a hydrodynamic simulation describing the interaction of a blast wave with an isolated cloud of the interstellar medium. The shocked cloud is at the center of the scene and is clipped to allow easy inspection of its internal structure. The color indicates the distribution of mass density: the highest density is in red, the lowest density is in blue. The streamlines indicate the direction of plasma flow. The cloud is heated up to temperatures of tens of million degrees by the blast wave. The shock may have been generated by a supernova explosion or by the fast wind from a nearby massive star.
Hydro simulation performed with the FLASH code.
Reference: Orlando et al. 2005, A&A 444, 505.
Credits: INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo.