XMM Newton detection of a class0 protostar
Credit: ESA/XMM-Newton, Subaru & UH88; Kenji Hamaguchi

The Baby's Kick

Stellar birth is largely a mystery, since its earliest stages are usually hidden from direct view by thick, cold molecular clouds. Observations at radio, infrared and now X-ray wavelengths, however, are helping to provide a sort of "ultrasound" picture of the earliest stages of star formation. The image above shows X-rays from a region in the R Corona Australis (R CrA) star forming region. The source marked by the arrow, IRS7B, is believed to be a so-called "Class 0" protostar, that is, a member of the youngest class of young stars, one in which the gravitational collapse process has only recently begun. The X-ray observation, from the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, is detailed enough to reveal the distribution of the X-ray emission, and shows that the emission is (unsurprisingly) very absorbed by the cold gas and dust in the cloud which surrounds IRS7B, but also shows (surprisingly) that the star produces a significant amount of "hard", high energy, X-rays. Scientists believe that the hard emission signifies the importance of magnetic fields even for these very young stars.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:27:16 EDT