Optical image of the Carina Nebula (ESO Images)

Information on the
Chandra Carina
Complex Project

X-ray image of the Carina Nebula

At a distance of 2.3 kpc, the Great Nebula in Carina is the nearest region with a large population of very massive young stars. The Carina Nebula Complex is a superb site to study the violent massive star formation and feedback that typifies giant HII regions and starburst galaxies.

The Young Stars and Star Formation Group at Munich Observatory is performing observations of the Carina Nebula in a wide range of different wavelengths, from X-rays to the radio regime. More information about our multi-wavelength Carina studies can be found here.

A very important part of our Carina studies is our involvement in the Chandra Carina Complex Project (CCCP), which is led by Leisa Townsley (Penn State University). The CCCP has used 1.5 Megaseconds (17.4 days) Chandra observing time to perform a 1.4 square-degree X-ray survey of the Carina Complex. The analysis of the X-ray data revealed 14368 individual X-ray point-sources as well as diffuse X-ray emission. Based on their X-ray properties, 10714 of the 14368 detected X-ray sources can be classified as very likely young stars in Carina; their strong X-ray emission allows to discern them from the numerous much older field stars in the area. These Chandra X-ray data efficiently eliminate the strong confusion problems that plague visual and IR samples and provide, for the first time, a statistically complete sample of the young stellar population in the Carina Complex.

Our main contribution to the CCCP was a very deep near-infrared survey of the central parts of the Carina Complex. The correlation of our infrared catalog (comprising more than 600 000 sources within a 1280 square-arcmin area) with the X-ray source list from the CCCP provided infrared identifications for 90% of the X-ray sources in the survey area. First results of this infrared - X-ray study are published in this paper.

Below I have collected a few interesting X-ray images. For more information, see the CCCP special issue, take a look at the Chandra Press Release or the report on the project in the NEWS & VIEWS article in Nature.
The first 16 CCCP papers have been published in a special issue of the ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL SUPPLEMENTS in May 2011.

The image below shows the X-ray mosaic in two different X-ray bands. The most important clusters / stars are indicated. The following image shows the fields of the individual Chandra pointings used in the CCCP.

image image

The image below shows the same X-ray mosaic but now added onto the MSX 8 mciron image shown in red.


CCCP compared to ROSAT


The left image shows the ROSAT PSPC image, on the right we have the CCCP image.

As an example for the combination of near-infrared and X-ray data, we show in the next image a comparison of the Chandra X-ray image and our HAWK-I near-infrared image of the Treasure Chest Cluster.


The image below highlights the fundamental importance of very good angular resolution for a correct identification of the X-ray sources. X-ray source positions around a bright infrared source are marked by dark circles on the HAWK-I image on the left. A correct identification of these X-ray sources would not be possible in the corresponding 2MASS image (right).


The images below show that very deep near-infrared data are required in order to find counterparts for the X-ray sources (marked as blue circles). While only about 60% of the X-ray sources have counterparts in 2MASS, the much deeper HAWK-I images reveal counterparts to about 90% of the X-ray sources.


All CCCP papers.
CCCP project page.
My talk about the CCCP at the conference The X-ray Universe 2011 can be found here.

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Last update: 29 June 2011