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 XMM-Newton Home > Gallery Home > Stars > Stellar Clusters > NGC 6231

An XMM-Newton view of the young open cluster NGC6231

Minimum credit line: Image courtesy of Sana et al (2005), Liège Astrophysical Institute (Belgium) and ESA. (for details, see Conditions of Use).

The image above can be displayed at full size and may be downloaded by clicking the image above.

About this Image

This three-colour EPIC-MOS image of the cluster NGC6231 in our Galaxy has been obtained thanks to a 2-days duration (~50 hours) exposure using the European X-ray observatory, as a result of one of the deepest XMM-Newton campaigns ever designed towards a young open cluster. The image colours have been coded according to the energy of the X-ray light. Red means soft, low energy emission (0.5-1.0 keV); green is an intermediate energy level (1.0-2.5 keV) whereas blue indicates hard, high energy (2.5-10.0 keV) radiation. The present image provides an unprecedented, high quality view of this rich stellar cluster. The XMM-Newton data are indeed so exceptional that scientists from the Astrophysical and Geophysical Institute of Liège (Belgium) have been working for four years now to provide an in-depth analysis of the cluster properties. The image reveals more than 600 sources in this populated field of view. Most of them are probably stellar objects related to the cluster. The brightest X-ray source at the image centre is the short period early-type binary HD152248, a colliding wind binary that has been studied by the Liège team in the X-ray and optical domains. The other bright but soft (orange/yellow) emitters are associated to early-type stars in the field of view. The fainter sources are harder (green) and are believed to be low-mass stars observed during their formation process (so-called pre-main sequence stars). Their study gives an insight into the star formation history of NGC 6231. Finally, a few very hard (blue) sources are also seen, most of them are supposed to be associated with extragalactic objects.

Investigator(s):  H. Sana, G. Rauw, E. Gosset, J.-M. Vreux

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XMM-Newton; Europe's X-Ray Observatory
Last update: 02-Jun-2015 by