NGC 2516 
PSPC Image
Credit: Thomas Preibisch

X-ray Colors of Young Stars

The image on the left is a "true colour" X-ray image of the distant (d = 1300 light years) young stellar cluster NGC2516 in the Carinae nebula, produced from the archive data of a 77000 sec (more than 21 hours!) observation obtained with the ROSAT Position Sensitive Proportional Counter. The field of view is about 40 times 40 arcmin. X-ray emission in these young stars is produced as the outer stellar atmosphere is heated by intense magnetic activity generated by the stellar "dynamo" of these quickly rotating stars. The X-ray colors reflect the temperature of the X-ray emitting gas: red is relatively cool (only a million degrees!) while blue-white represents gas at much higher temperatures (near 10 million degrees). Note that, away from the center of the X-ray image, the apparent "size" of the sources increases (i.e. the sources appear "larger"); this is actually an instrumental effect produced by the de-focussing of off-axis X-rays by the ROSAT mirrors. The image on the right is an optical image of this cluster (about the same field of view). NGC 2516 was discovered by Abbe Nicholas Louis de la Caille in 1751 during during his 2-year journey to the Cape of Good Hope.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified November 2, 1999