Carina Nebula/XMM
Credit: A. Brinkman and J. Kaastra/ESA

Hot Hot Stars

The temperatures of normal stars scale with stellar mass; the hotter the star, the higher the mass. Some of the most massive and hottest stars known are located in the Milky Way, in a location called as the Carina Nebula about 8000 lightyears from earth. Since massive stars die young, the Carina Nebula is a place where stars have recently formed, and are forming still. Astronomers want to understand how and why such massive star clusters form, and one important new tool available to them is wide-field high resolution X-ray imaging which can be obtained by the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray Observatories. Such X-ray images can be used to detect infant stars, to identify binary star systems, and to locate remnants of stellar explosions from the evolution of the most massive members of the cluster. The image above shows a false-color XMM-Newton image of the Carina Nebula taken with the EPIC/MOS1 camera. Bright sources are in yellow, fainter sources in green, and faint emission in blue. Four very bright sources can be seen. The brightest source in the image is the supermassive star Eta Carina. To the right of Eta Car is the X-ray bright star known as WR 25, an evolved star on its way to becoming a supernova. The bright source in the upper right corner is produced by the combined emission from a tight cluster of stars known as Trumpler 14. To the left of Trumpler 14 is the X-ray bright source HD 93250, another one of the most massive stars in the Galaxy. A mysterious diffuse X-ray glow, perhaps produced by the strong stellar winds blowing from the massive stars in the Nebula, is also seen. Note that straight lines in the image are artifacts of the detector.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified July 15, 2002