The deepest ever X-ray image
of a young stellar cluster

By focusing on the Orion Nebula almost continuously for 13 days, a team of 37 scientists from 8 countries used the X-ray satellite Chandra to obtain the deepest X-ray observation ever taken of this or any star cluster. The Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project (COUP) gives the most comprehensive view of magnetic activity in young stars ever achieved. The Orion Nebula is the nearest rich stellar nursery, located just 1,500 light years away. Analysis of the COUP X-ray image revealed 1616 individual X-ray sources, 1400 of which can be identified with young stars in the cluster.

Below I have collected a few nice images. For more information, look at the 13 COUP papers that were published in a special issue of the ApJS in October 2005. For my contributions, see papers number 46 to 51 in my publication list.

COUP X-ray color images

The left image shows the full COUP image in "true color". Photon with energies from 0.2 to 1.0 keV are shown in red, 1.0 to 2.0 keV photons in green, and 2.0 to 8.0 keV photons in blue. The right image shows the central part of the COUP image at higher resolution.

COUP X-ray image compared to the VLT Infrared Image of the Orion Nebula

This infrared image (Credit: ESO/VLT/M.McCaughrean et al.) of the central region of the Orion Nebula Nebula Cluster was made using the infrared ISAAC instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory and is a mosaic of 81 VLT images. The Trapezium stars are seen near the center of the image. The K-band image (centered at a wavelength of 2.16 micron) is shown here in red, the H-band image (1.65 micron) in green and the J-band image (1.24 micron) in blue. This image covers 2.5 light years on a side at the distance of the Orion Nebula Nebula. A comparison with the same field of view (5.5 x 5.5 arcmin) for the Chandra data is shown on the right.


image image

The left picture shows the ROSAT HRI image for approximately the same field of view as the COUP image shown on the right side.

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