Astronomy Picture of the Day

X-Ray Mystery in RCW 38

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#63322 by @ 09.01.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
X-Ray Mystery in RCW 38


A mere 6,000 light-years distant and sailing through the constellation
star cluster RCW 38
is full of powerful stars.

It's no surprise that these stars,
only a million years young with hot outer atmospheres,
appear as
point-like x-ray sources dotting
x-ray image
from the orbiting

But the diffuse cloud of x-rays surrounding them is a bit

The image is color coded by x-ray energy, with high energies
in blue, medium in green, and low energy x-rays in red.

Just a few light-years across, the cloud
which pervades the cluster has colors suggesting
the x-rays
are produced by high energy electrons
through magnetic fields

Yet a source of energetic electrons, such as shockwaves
from exploding stars (supernova remnants),
or rotating neutron stars
is not apparent in the Chandra data.

Whatever their origins, the energetic particles could leave an imprint on
planetary systems forming in young star cluster RCW 38, just
as nearby energetic
events seem to have affected the chemistry and
isotopes found in our own solar system.

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