Images by Date
Images by Category
Solar System
Stars
White Dwarfs
Supernovas
Neutron Stars
Black Holes
Milky Way Galaxy
Normal Galaxies
Quasars
Galaxy Clusters
Cosmology/Deep Field
Miscellaneous
Images by Interest
Space Scoop for Kids
Multiwavelength
Sky Map
Constellations
3D Wall
Photo Blog
Top Rated Images
Image Handouts
Desktops
High Res Prints
Fits Files
Image Tutorials
Photo Album Tutorial
False Color
Cosmic Distance
Look-Back Time
Scale & Distance
Angular Measurement
Images & Processing
AVM/Metadata
Getting Hard Copies
Image Use Policy
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Chandra Mobile
Chronicle
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
More Information
Normal Stars & Star Clusters
X-ray Astronomy Field Guide
Normal Stars & Star Clusters
Questions and Answers
Normal Stars & Star Clusters
Chandra Images
Normal Stars & Star Clusters
Related Podcasts
A Tour of Eta Carinae
Download Image

More Information
Handout
Handout: html | pdf

More Images
Chandra X-ray Image of
NGC 281
(Credit: NASA/CXC/CfA/S.Wolk et al)

More Releases
NGC 281
NGC 281
(28 Sep 11)

Related Images
Orion Nebula
Orion Nebula
(03 Oct 07)
Coronet Cluster
Coronet Cluster
(13 Sep 07)
W3
W3 Main
(18 Dec 06)
NGC 281:
A Bustling Hub of Star Formation



Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/S.Wolk et al; Optical: NSF/AURA/WIYN/Univ. of Alaska/T.A.Rector

NGC 281 is a bustling hub of star formation about 10,000 light years away. This composite image of optical and X-ray emission includes regions where new stars are forming and older regions containing stars about 3 million years old.

The optical data (seen in red, orange, and yellow) show a small open cluster of stars, large lanes of obscuring gas and dust, and dense knots where stars may still be forming. The X-ray data (purple), based on a Chandra observation lasting more than a day, shows a different view. More than 300 individual X-ray sources are seen, most of them associated with IC 1590, the central cluster. The edge-on aspect of NGC 281 allows scientists to study the effects of powerful X-rays on the gas in the region, the raw material for star formation.

A second group of X-ray sources is seen on either side of a dense molecular cloud, known as NGC 281 West, a cool cloud of dust grains and gas, much of which is in the form of molecules. The bulk of the sources around the molecular cloud are coincident with emission from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a family of organic molecules containing carbon and hydrogen. There also appears to be cool diffuse gas associated with IC 1590 that extends toward NGC 281 West. The X-ray spectrum of this region shows that the gas is a few million degrees and contains significant amounts of magnesium, sulfur and silicon. The presence of these elements suggests that supernova recently went off in that area.

Fast Facts for NGC 281:
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/S.Wolk et al; Optical: NSF/AURA/WIYN/Univ. of Alaska/T.A.Rector
Scale  Image is 29 arcmin across.
Category  Normal Stars & Star Clusters
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 00h 52m 59.35s | Dec +56° 37' 18.8"
Constellation  Cassiopeia
Observation Date  3 pointings from November 10 - 12, 2005
Observation Time  28 hours
Obs. ID  5424, 7205-7206
Color Code  X-ray (purple); Optical (red & yellow)
Instrument  ACIS
Distance Estimate  9,200 light years
Release Date  November 15, 2007