XMM Newton X-ray image of a piece of the Taurus molecular cloud
Credit: ESA/XMM-Newton/Paul Scherrer Institut

Under Construction

A stunning new survey of a stellar nursery, a molecular cloud in the constellation of Taurus, shows dramatic views of the mysterious process by which stars are born. This survey, by the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, studied the X-ray emission from about 200 newborn stars hidden within the cloud. The image above shows one piece of this survey, revealing bright point sources which are mostly X-ray emitting young stars. Astronomers have known that, while young stars emit high energy X-rays, they are not as bright in X-rays as they should be given the violent means by which stars accrete material from the surrounding cloud. The XMM Taurus survey suggests that most of the X-rays generated by the infall of accreted material are blocked by the dense, cooler material in the flow. The XMM data also reveal the presence of a source of unabsorbed X-rays associated with many of the detected stars. This emission may represent a hot region far from the star. Astronomers speculate that such emission might be produced by a jet of material ejected from the accreting star colliding at enormous speed with the ambient molecular cloud material.

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

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