Posts Tagged ‘reflection nebula’

Faces in the cloud

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Faces pop out of the star cloud around IRAS 10082-5647 in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.

Explore the wisps and swirls in this reflection nebula. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note below.

IRAS 10082-5647 is a new star in the neighborhood; just a few million years old. In this phase of its life, the star heats itself by gravity. Gravity draws the star material on itself. Atoms in the star become packed in tighter and tighter making it more dense and hotter. Eventually, the hydrogen in the star will begin to fuse. At this point it will become a full-fledged star and will enter what astronomers call the Main Sequence. It will spend billions of years in this phase of life. Our Sun is a 4 billion year old Main Sequence star.

Some clouds of gas and dust around stars glow like the Orion Nebula or the Eagle Nebula. Ultraviolet radiation from giant stars cause these nebula to glow like neon lights. Instead of shining with its own light, the nebula surrounding IRAS 10082-5647 softly reflects the light of the star. Strong solar wind from the star is sculpting and pushing the gas and dust of the cloud outward. Some of that dust may become new stars one day. And there may be enough gas and dust left over in a disk around the star to form planets, moons and comets.

Glowing R-shaped Keyhole

NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

A glowing R-shaped keyhole beckons in this star-forming region of the galaxy toward the constellation Orion. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows the foggy light of the reflection nebula NGC 1999.

Explore the nebula. Reflection nebulae do shine with light of their own. NGC 1999 reflect the light of a bright, recently formed star. The star called V380 Orionis glows just left of center in the image. NGC 1999 is the cloud from which the star originally formed. Because the star is still enshrouded in this cloud, astronomers believe that V380 Orionis is still very young. It’s white light indicates the star is hot; about twice as hot as our Sun at 10,000 degrees Centigrade. V380 Orionis also is about 3.5 times more massive than the Sun.

The keyhole itself is not a hole at all but an example of inky, dark star clouds called Bok globules. These cold, dense clouds of dust and gas are named after their discoverer, American astronomer Bart Bok. These clouds are so dense that they block all light behind it. Similarly on Earth, dark storm clouds block the Sun on a summer day allowing the edges to glow brightly. Astronomers believe that the globules are contracting due to their own gravity. One day, new stars may form inside these globules.

Sir William Herschel and his sister Caroline discovered NGC 1999 in the late 1700s. The nebula lies about 1,500 light-years from Earth. You can find it in night skies just below the Great Nebula in Orion, M42.

Nebular Swirl

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

A swirl of nebula resembles an arm and a hand in this image of DG 129 from NASA‘s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

Dive into this colorful reflection nebula. Gaze at the star cloud with your imagination. What other patterns or stories do you see? Leave a note below.

In visible light, DG 129 is not remarkable. But with WISE’s infrared eyes, the reflection nebula’s full glory is revealed. Reflection nebula reflect faint starlight from nearby stars. In comparison, emission nebula, such as the Great Nebula in Orion, shine with their own light as ultraviolet radiation from nearby stars excites hydrogen atoms, causing them to glow.

Just to the right of the “thumb” in the hand, look for Pi Scorpii. The bright star, wrapped in the greenish haze, is one of the stars that marks the claws of Scorpio, the Scorpion. This triple-star system lies about 500 light-years from Earth about the same distance away as DG 129.

The WISE orbiting telescope surveyed the sky from December 2010 until it was turned off in February 2011. To view the universe in infrared wavelengths, the satellite’s sensors had to be kept very cold. Coolant needed to keep it cool ran out and the satellite stopped sending useful data.

WISE Mantis

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

A green mantis rises from this cloud of glowing gas in an image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

Explore the colorful image. What stories and patterns do you see in this nebula? Leave a comment below.

IC 405, or the Flaming Star Nebula, features a runaway star racing away from its original home. AE Aurigae was likely born in the Trapezium Cluster, found deep within the heart of the Orion Nebula. It was part of a twin star system, called a binary star, with Mu Columbae. But about 2.5 million years ago, the pair collided with another binary system in the Trapezium Cluster. This collision sent both AE Aurigae and Mu Columbae zipping through space in opposite directions at more than 100 kilometers per second.

The strong wind from AE Aurigae blow away electrons in the gas surrounding the star. Scientists call this ionized gas and it glows, creating an emission nebula. The searing heat of the star also warms the surrounding dust causing it to glow red in this image. We see this light reflected to our eyes. Astronomers call this a reflection nebula. Because infrared light is invisible to our eyes, astronomers color the light in the image so we can study it better. Each color of light represents a specific wavelength of infrared light. The fuzzy blue spots are hotter stars.

IC 405 is found about 1,500 light years from Earth toward the constellation Auriga the Charioteer.

Keyhole

NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

A glowing keyhole beckons in this star-forming region of the galaxy toward the constellation Orion. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows the foggy light of the reflection nebula NGC 1999.

Explore the nebula. Reflection nebulae do shine with light of their own. NGC 1999 reflect the light of a bright, recently formed star. The star called V380 Orionis glows just left of center in the image. NGC 1999 is the cloud from which the star originally formed. Because the star is still enshrouded in this cloud, astronomers believe that V380 Orionis is still very young. It’s white light indicates the star is hot; about twice as hot as our Sun at 10,000 degrees Centigrade. V380 Orionis also is about 3.5 times more massive than the Sun.

The keyhole itself is not a hole at all but an example of inky, dark star clouds called Bok globules. These cold, dense clouds of dust and gas are named after their discoverer, American astronomer Bart Bok. These clouds are so dense that they block all light behind it. Similarly on Earth, dark storm clouds block the Sun on a summer day allowing the edges to glow brightly. Astronomers believe that the globules are contracting due to their own gravity. One day, new stars may form inside these globules.

Sir William Herschel and his sister Caroline discovered NGC 1999 in the late 1700s. The nebula lies about 1,500 light-years from Earth. You can find it in night skies just below the Great Nebula in Orion, M42.

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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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