Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2007 October 6
Explanation: The stars of Orion shine brightly in visible light in planet Earth's night sky. The constellation harbours 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 centre of this false colour 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 the Trapezium stars, it was only a few million years old. The x-ray image spans about 2.5 light-years across the central region of the Orion Nebula.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.