This Chandra image shows the Orion Nebula Cluster, a rich cluster of young stars observed almost continuously for 13 days.
Planetary protection: X-ray super-flares aid formation of ’solar systems’
New results from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory about the Orion Nebula imply super-flares torched our young solar system. Such X-ray flares likely affected the planet-forming disk around the early sun, and may have enhanced the survival chances of Earth.
By focusing on the Orion Nebula almost continuously for 13 days, a team of scientists used Chandra to obtain the deepest X-ray observations ever taken of any star cluster. The Orion Nebula is the nearest rich stellar nursery, located just 1,500 light years away from Earth. The Orion Nebula provides an unparalleled view of 1,400 young stars, 30 of which are prototypes of the early sun. Scientists have discovered these young stars erupt in enormous flares that dwarf, in energy, size and frequency, anything seen from our sun today. "We don’t have a time machine to see how the young sun behaved, but the next best thing is to observe sun-like stars in Orion," said Scott Wolk of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. "We are getting a unique look at stars between one and 10 million years old – a time when planets form."
Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
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