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Westerlund 2: A Stellar Sight


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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    Oscar Wilde

Posted 17 February 2008 - 03:49 PM

Westerlund 2:
A Stellar Sight

linked-image
Credit: NASA/CXC/Univ. de Liège/Y. Naze et al


This Chandra X-ray Observatory image shows Westerlund 2, a young star cluster with an estimated age of about one or two million years. Until recently little was known about this cluster because it is heavily obscured by dust and gas. However, using infrared and X-ray observations to overcome this obscuration, Westerlund 2 has become regarded as one of the most interesting star clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. It contains some of the hottest, brightest and most massive stars known.

Spitzer Infrared Image of Westerlund 2This Chandra image of Westerlund 2 shows low energy X-rays in red, intermediate energy X-rays in green and high energy X-rays in blue. The image shows a very high density of massive stars that are bright in X-rays, plus diffuse X-ray emission.

An incredibly massive double star system called WR20a is visible as the bright yellow point just below and to the right of the cluster's center. This system contains stars with masses of 82 and 83 times that of the Sun. The dense streams of matter steadily ejected by these two massive stars, called stellar winds, collide with each other and produce copious amounts of X-ray emission. This collision is seen at different angles as the stars orbit around each other every 3.7 days. Several other bright X-ray sources may also show evidence for collisions between winds in massive binary systems.


Fast Facts for Westerlund 2:

Credit NASA/CXC/Univ. de Liège/Y. Naze et al
Scale Image is 8.4 arcmin across
Category Normal Stars & Star Clusters
Coordinates (J2000) RA 10h 23m 58.10s | Dec -57° 45' 49.0"
Constellation Centaurus
Observation Dates Three pointings between 08/23/2003 - 09/28/2006  
Observation Time 38 hours
Obs. IDs 3501, 6410, 6411
Color Code Intensity
Instrument ACIS
Also Known As Wd 2
References Naze, Y. et al, 2008 A&A, accepted.
Distance Estimate About 20,000 light years
Release Date January 23, 2008


Source: Chandra - Photo Album

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

    Space Cadet

  • 32,169 posts
  • Joined:03 Mar 2006
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bexleyheath, Kent, UK

  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

    Oscar Wilde

Posted 17 February 2008 - 04:06 PM

More Images of Westerlund 2

linked-image
Chandra X-ray & Spitzer Infrared Image of Westerlund 2
This colored Chandra X-ray Observatory image (inset) shows Westerlund 2 in context with the Spitzer infrared observation (black & white). Westerlund 2 is a young star cluster with an estimated age of about one or two million years. Until recently little was known about this cluster because it is heavily obscured by dust and gas. However, using infrared and X-ray observations to overcome this obscuration, Westerlund 2 has become regarded as one of the most interesting star clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. It contains some of the hottest, brightest and most massive stars known.
(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. de Liege/Y. Naze et al; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Wisconsin/E. Churchwell)


linked-image

linked-image
Spitzer Infrared Images of Westerlund 2
RCW 49 is the surrounding HII region around the young stellar cluster Westerlund 2 (Wd2). Because many of the stars in RCW 49 are deeply embedded in plumes of dust, they cannot be seen at visible wavelengths. When viewed with Spitzer's infrared eyes, however, RCW 49 becomes transparent.
(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Wisconsin/E. Churchwell)

Source: Chandra - Photo Album

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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