Astronomy Picture of the Day

X-ray Stars of Orion

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X-ray Stars of Orion


The stars of Orion shine brightly
in visible light in planet Earth's night sky.

harbors the closest large stellar nursery,
the Great Nebula of Orion,
a mere 1,500 light-years away.

In fact, the apparently bright clump of stars near the center
of this false color Chandra
x-ray telescope picture
are the massive stars of
the Trapezium - the
young star cluster which powers much of the nebula's
visible-light glow.

The stars shown
in blue and orange are young sun-like stars; prodigious sources
of x-rays thought to be produced in hot
stellar coronae and
surface flares in a young star's strong
magnetic field.

Our middle-aged
Sun itself was
probably thousands of times
brighter in x-rays when, like
stars, it was
only a few million years old.

x-ray image

spans about 2.5 light-years
across the central region of the Orion Nebula.

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