Orion Nebula composite image
Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/E.Feigelson & K.Getman et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/M. Robberto et al.

Active Youngsters

Young stars form in dense clouds, which frustrates astronomers who want to see this process as clearly as possible. One of astronomers' favorite places therefore is the Orion Nebula region, the closest region where stars are still being born. Observations have shown many very young stellar objects, some with thick disks surrounding them out of which planets may one day form. The image above shows a beautiful optical image from the Hubble space telescope of the Orion Nebula. The optical image shows individual stars, but also the heavily structured clouds of gas and dust stretched into wisps by interactions with the embedded stars. An X-ray image of the same region obtained by the Chandra X-ray Observatory provides a dramatically different view. The X-rays detected by Chandra can penetrate enormous depths of dust, revealing entirely new populations of stars (in blue in orange) which otherwise might be unseen. In addition the X-ray variations seen by Chandra of individual stars point to extremely violent activity as the new stars settle down to a long middle age.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

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

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