Posts Tagged ‘O-type stars’

A Face in Profile

Credit: ESO


A pair of hot blue stars carve the inside of NGC 3324 and create a face in profile in this image from the European Southern Observatory.

Zoom into the sculpted edges of this stellar geode. What shapes or pictures do you see? Leave a note below.

Just like hollow rocks on Earth that can be broken open to reveal delicate crystals, zooming in on the edges of this star cloud reveal filaments of dark dust, elephant trunk pillars and rich, glowing regions of red gas. Strong solar winds and intense radiation from very hot and hefty blue-white stars have blown a bubble in this star cloud. Ultraviolet radiation also excites and warms hydrogen atoms within the cloud creating a warm red glow. Other colors are created by other elements, such as oxygen.

Zoom into the right side of the image and look for the face in silhouette with the bump out resembling a nose. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has zoomed even closer into NGC 3324 offering a crisper view of the edge of this stellar bubble.

NGC lies about 7,500 light-years from Earth toward the constellation of Carina, the Keel of Jason’s mythical ship the Argo.

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Green Ring


A bubble of hot gas and glowing dust sculpted by a massive star shapes a green ring or flower in this image from NASA‘s Spitzer Space Telescope.

Explore the green and red bubble known as RCW 120. What shapes or patterns do you see in the image? Leave a note below.

This bubble of glowing gas is found near the plane of the Milky Way in the dense star clouds of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Giant stars, known as “O-type” stars send out a torrent of light and stellar winds. These winds shape bubbles in the gas clouds from which the stars are born. With Spitzer’s infrared light detectors, astronomers can see colors of light we cannot see with our eyes. We feel infrared light as heat. We can see young, hot stars nestled deep within their dusty cocoons. The intense winds are not all that is unleashed from these stars. Scorching ultraviolet radiation causes molecules of hydrogen and other elements to glow. The ring is created when intense winds slam into the calm gas and dust cloud. The reddish area inside the bubble show slightly larger and hotter grains of dust.

This formation inside dust clouds is common. If you explore a Spitzer image of the entire galaxy, you’ll find hundreds of similar bubbles. Even within this image, many other smaller bubbles can be found.

RCW 120 lies slightly above the plane of our galaxy about 4,300 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Scorpius.


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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