Thursday, 3 January 2013

New RAS Fellow is Star-struck in Hertfordshire

The Dynamics of Young Star Clusters” is the research focus of Dr Nick Wright who has recently joined the University’s Centre for Astrophysics Research as a Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) Fellow.

Nick brings his expertise in the formation and evolution of stars, stellar clusters and associations, and our Galaxy, and joins us from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA  - a joint research laboratory between Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory .

Nick’s arrival coincides with the release of images of Cygnus OB2 , a star cluster in the Milky Way that contains many hot, massive young stars. To help create the image, Nick compiled the optical data from a survey run by Professor Janet Drew based at the University’s Centre for Astrophysics Research, and X-ray data from a survey he worked on whilst at Harvard.  The image released by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is also made up of  X-rays from the Chandra Observatory (blue) and infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (red).

Some of the bright massive stars in Cygnus OB2 are visible in the image (the bright blue dots in the centre). The star cluster is about 5000 light years away and is one of the most massive such star clusters in our Galaxy (in the top 10 known at the moment!), and we're very lucky that it is close enough to study in detail.

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