Chandra Sees 1000 X-ray Stars in the Orion Nebula

Press Web Page

This material is embargoed until 14 January 2000, 8:30 AM EST


The press release on the study of young stars in the Orion Nebula with the Chandra X-ray Observatory can be found here (PSU news alerts) and here (CXC press releases).

Three images and captions can be downloaded here.  The credit for all images is NASA/CXC/SAO/PSU (National Space & Aeronautical Administration, Chandra X-ray Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Pennsylvania State University).

Further information can be obtained from Penn State Profs. Gordon Garmire (814-865-1117) or Eric Feigelson (814-865-0162).

Full ACIS field of the Orion Nebula Cluster
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Caption: The full field of the ACIS Imaging array showing about a thousand X-ray emitting young stars in the Orion Nebula Cluster.  This cluster is the nearest massive star forming region to the Sun, and is well-known in the visible sky because it illuminates the Orion Nebula.  The angular size of the field is 18x18 arcminutes, or about half the size of the full Moon. The orientation has North at the top and East to the left.

Close-up of the center of the Orion Nebula Cluster

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Caption. Close-up of the crowded center of the Orion Nebula Cluster, demonstrating the capabilities of Chandra's high resolution telescope.  Most cluster stars with magnitude V<20 in the visible band (blue boxes) are detected, along with many embedded stars seen only at infrared wavelengths.  A few stars are detected here in the X-ray band for the first time.

Close-up of the Becklin-Neugebauer object region
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Caption.  Close-up of the Becklin-Neugebauer object and its vicinity, thought to be the closest region of current high-mass star formation. The X-rays from the stars deeply embedded in the molecular cloud (green circles) are heavily absorbed by intervening molecular material and only a tiny fraction of the emitted X-ray luminosity are detectable.  Several embedded stars (blue circles) were missed by infrared surveys, but two appear as radio sources.  Radio and X-ray flares are known to be associated in very young stars.

Background information on the Orion Nebula and its cluster of young stars, including images at other wavelengths for comparison with the X-ray image, are available from  Lynne Hillenbrand.

Background information on the Chandra X-ray Observatory is available from the Chandra X-ray Center .

Background information on Chandra's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) is available from  Penn State .

A recent review of our understanding of X-ray emission from young stars is available from  Eric Feigelson.