NGC 6383 XMM-Newton image
Credit: X-ray: G. Rauw et al., 2003, Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 407, pg. 925; optical: Digitized Sky Survey (STScI, ROE, AAO, UK-PPARC, CalTech, National Geographic Society)

Clustering around a Massive Star

Massive stars have short lives and usually move slowly, so they don't move far from where they're born before they die. The areas around massive stars are usually good places to look for other young stars, but since massive stars have a significant effect on their surroundings (due to high brightnesses and strong mass loss in all stages of their lives) they probably have a strong effect on how stars around them form. This relation is still not known precisely, but new X-ray observations are helping to define it. The image on the above left is a false color X-ray image by the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory of the massive star HD 159176. In this image HD 159176 is the very bright source at the center of the field. It is surrounded by fainter X-ray sources. The image on the right shows the positions of the X-ray sources (as circles) overlaid on an optical image (again, HD 159176 is the bright star in the middle). There are a number of correlations between the X-ray and optical sources, but a surprising number of X-ray sources which are not associated with optical stars. This X-ray image and others like it are helping to reveal the otherwise hidden population of newly formed stars.

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