X-ray-emitting young stars in the Orion Nebula

Eric D. Feigelson, Patrick Broos, James A. Gaffney, Gordon Garmire, Lynne A. Hillenbrand, Steven H. Pravdo, Leisa Townsley, Yohko Tsuboi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

243 Scopus citations


The Orion Nebula Cluster and the molecular cloud in its vicinity have been observed with the ACIS-I detector on board the Chandra X-ray Observatory with 23 hr exposure in two observations. We detect 1075 X-ray sources, most with subarcsecond positional accuracy. Ninety-one percent of the sources are spatially associated with known stellar members of the cluster, and an additional 7% are newly identified deeply embedded cloud members. This provides the largest X-ray study of a pre-main-sequence stellar population and covers the initial mass function from brown dwarfs up to a 45 M O star. Source luminosities span 5 orders of magnitude from log Lx ≃ 28.0 to 33.3 ergs s-1 in the 0.5-8 keV band, plasma energies range from 0.2 to > 10 keV, and absorption ranges from log NH < 20.0 to ∼23.5 cm-2. Comprehensive tables providing X-ray and stellar characteristics are provided electronically. We examine here the X-ray properties of Orion young stars as a function of mass; other studies of astrophysical interest will appear in companion papers. Results include: (a) the discovery of rapid variability in the O9.5 31 M star θ2A Ori, and several early B stars, inconsistent with the standard model of X-ray production in small shocks distributed throughout the radiatively accelerated wind; (b) support for the hypothesis that intermediate-mass mid-B through A type stars do not themselves produce significant X-ray emission; (c) confirmation that low-mass G through M type T Tauri stars exhibit powerful flaring but typically at luminosities considerably below the "saturation" level; (d) confirmation that the presence or absence of a circumstellar disk has no discernable effect on X-ray emission; (e) evidence that T Tauri plasma temperatures are often very high with T ≥ 100 MK, even when luminosities are modest and flaring is not evident; and (f) detection of the largest sample of pre-main-sequence very low-mass objects showing flaring levels similar to those seen in more massive T Tauri stars and a decline in magnetic activity as they evolve into L and T type brown dwarfs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-292
Number of pages35
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jul 20 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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