The full stellar population of NGC 6334, one of the most spectacular regions of massive star formation in the nearby Galaxy, has not been well sampled in past studies. We analyze here a mosaic of two Chandra X-ray Observatory images of the region using sensitive data analysis methods, giving a list of 1607 faint X-ray sources with arcsecond positions and approximate line-of-sight absorption. About 95% of these are expected to be cluster members, most lower mass pre-main-sequence stars. Extrapolating to low X-ray levels, the total stellar population is estimated to be 20,000-30,000 pre-main-sequence stars. The X-ray sources show a complicated spatial pattern with 10 distinct star clusters. The heavily obscured clusters are mostly associated with previously known far-infrared sources and radio HII regions. The lightly obscured clusters are mostly newly identified in the X-ray images. Dozens of likely OB stars are found, both in clusters and dispersed throughout the region, suggesting that star formation in the complex has proceeded over millions of years. A number of extraordinarily heavily absorbed X-ray sources are associated with the active regions of star formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science