RCW 38: A young star cluster 6000
light years from Earth in the constellation Vela.
Caption: This Chandra image covers a
region about 5 light years across and shows many young stars
with hot upper atmospheres. In addition to the point-like
emission from the stars, the image revealed a diffuse cloud
enveloping the star cluster. The X-ray spectrum of the cloud
shows an excess of high-energy X-rays. This excess indicates
that these X-rays come from trillion-volt electrons moving in a
magnetic field. The presence of these extremely energetic
particles could dramatically change the chemistry of the disks
that will eventually form planets around stars in the cluster.
Evidence in the form of short-lived radioactive nuclei found in
meteorites suggests that our solar system was immersed for a
time in a sea of energetic particles.
Scale: Image is 8.1 arcmin on a side.
Chandra X-ray Observatory ACIS
CXC operated for
NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical