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Chandra/Optical image of NGC 281
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/S.Wolk et al; Optical: NSF/AURA/WIYN/Univ. of Alaska/T.A.Rector


Cornucopia

Riches spill from this region - a stellar birthplace in the Milky Way. This star nursery, called NGC 281, about 10,000 lightyears from earth, is a cloud of dense dust and glowing, ionized gas. Stars form embedded within those dense dust clouds, then they burn their way out, heating the surrounding cloud in the process. A process shown in loving detail by modern astronomical instruments. The image above is a combined optical and X-ray image (from the Chandra X-ray Observatory) of NGC 281. The optical image shows the beautiful nebulosity illuminated by the young stars within. The X-ray image in blue and white shows about 300 active young embedded stars, some deep within their natal cocoons. The X-ray image also shows diffuse X-ray emitting gas rich in heavy elements like magnesium and silicon. These elements were produced by a supernova, which raises the interesting question: did the death of an old star help form these new stars?


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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:27:17 EDT




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