Glowing Angelfish

Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)

The faint nebula known as Gum 19 shows a light and dark angelfish shape in this infrared image from the European Southern Observatory.

Explore this little known nebula. What do you see in this image? A light and dark face? A broad arrowhead? Tell us your stories.

A blue supergiant, called V391 Velorum, illuminates the hydrogen gas of the nebula. The glowing edge of the dark cloud is a stellar nursery. Gas and dust, driven away from V391 Velorum by intense ultraviolet radiation and blistering solar winds bunch together. Eventually this gas and dust will gather together in knots and as gravity pulls the material together, new stars may form. These stars in turn will carve out bubbles in the nebula as well. Thousands of years from now, this nebula likely will look much different. The supermassive, blue-giant star, V391 Velorum, will probably explode in a supernova explosion. These massive stars are five to ten times larger and heavier than our Sun. They don’t shine for long. V31 Velorum burns at a searing 30,000 degrees Celsius. After only about ten million years, they blow up as supernovae. These explosions release so much energy in light and heat that they can easily blaze brighter than a galaxy for a short period of time. Their explosive ends spread more material to be used in future star and planet formation.

This image of Gum 19 was taken by the infrared instrument called SOFI mounted on ESO’s New Technology Telescope. The ESO observatory sits high in the mountains in Chile. Gum 19, named for Australian astrophysicist Colin S. Gum, is located about 22,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation of Vela, the Sail.


S 20-04-2010, 09:32

it’s a door in the dark, opening to let in the light on the other side

womanastronomer 20-04-2010, 10:05

If you turn your head to the left, it looks like a jellyfish. There is also a snake swimming towards the jellyfish. Unfortunately, jellyfish are not very tasty. 🙂

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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