Posts Tagged ‘star cluster’

Many Faces in Doradus

NASA, ESA, D. Lennon and E. Sabbi (ESA/STScI), J. Anderson, S. E. de Mink, R. van der Marel, T. Sohn, and N. Walborn (STScI), N. Bastian (Excellence Cluster, Munich), L. Bedin (INAF, Padua), E. Bressert (ESO), P. Crowther (University of Sheffield), A. de Koter (University of Amsterdam), C. Evans (UKATC/STFC, Edinburgh), A. Herrero (IAC, Tenerife), N. Langer (AifA, Bonn), I. Platais (JHU), and H. Sana (University of Amsterdam)

Many faces hide around the star cluster NGC 2060 in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the loose collection of stars and nebula. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

The star cluster NGC 2060 is a family of stars that are drifting apart. These stellar siblings were born from the same star cloud but now they are no longer gravitationally bound. Within a few million years the grouping will cease to be as all the stars will have dispersed. The nebula is full of little gems besides young stars. Look just left of center in the image. A supernova, created when a massive hot star ended its short life after burning all of its nuclear fuel, exploded blowing a bubble within the cloud about 10,000 years ago. The dark area near the center of the image is a dense cloud of cold dust between Earth and the cloud. Other smaller dark globs of dust blot out the starlight from behind. Fierce stellar winds and blistering ultraviolet radiation from the young stars in this nebula push the glowing gas and dust into arcs and pillars

NGC 2060 is part of 30 Doradus, the brightest star-forming region that we know about 170,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The LMC is a dwarf galaxy near our Milky Way Galaxy. The massive nebula is home to some of the most massive stars in our cosmic neighborhood. It is so bright and close, that Hubble can see individual stars offering scientists information on how stars are born, evolve and die.

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Stars in Stars

ESO

Brilliant blue stars of NGC 6604 are scattered widely in the rich starfields of Serpens, the Serpent in this image from the European Southern Observatory.

Zoom into the nebula deep in the sweep of the Milky Way. What stories or shapes do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

The star cluster NGC 6604 is a young star cluster with only a few hundred hot blue-white stars. The cluster lies within its birth nebula. The glowing hydrogen gas is a perfect place for new stars to be born. Parts of the dust cloud collapse under gravity. As more and more material gathers, the gravity becomes stronger and starts to warm. Eventually, the temperature at the heart of the spinning cloud of gas and dust might become high enough to allow for fusion to take place. When that happens, a star is born. The hot blue stars give off a strong solar wind pushing the dust cloud away. The stars also give off blistering ultraviolet radiation that excites the atoms within the nebula causing it to glow.

Astronomers using the ESO’s Wide Field Imager attached to the 2.2-meter MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile captured this image of the faint nebula and star clsuter. NGC 6604 lies about 5,500 light-years from Earth. The star cluster is easily seen in small telescopes. The surrounding nebula, however, is very faint. Astronomers using photographic film discovered the nebula only in the 20th century.

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Nebular “A”

Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain)

Starting out our starry alphabet is the nebula near Pismis 24. Harsh winds from hot, new stars have hollowed out an “A” in this image from NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope.

The stars of Pismis 24 are massive; some more than 100 times heavier than our Sun. The new stars also unleash a powerful stellar wind that shapes the nebula below. Explore the image and wander from the stars down to the nebula. You’ll encounter tall pillars of dense dust and wispy tendrils of gas. My favorite shape in this cloud is the hand and finger pointing up at Pismis 24. Can you find it? All pillars, or elephant trunks, point back toward the flow of the stellar wind. You can also find a new star near the bottom of the image hollowing out a bubble in the nebula. Can you find other shapes in the nebula, such as tadpoles and worms? These denser pockets of gas may shrink down and ignite on their own as stars.

NGC 6357 glows because of the light of the newly formed stars. Intense ultraviolet radiation coming from the star cluster, excites the gas molecules in the nebula and causes them to glow. Astronomers call this kind of nebula and emission nebula. NGC 6357 and Pismis 24 are found in the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion, about 8,000 light-years from Earth. In our starship, traveling at the speed of light, ten years would pass while moving from the star at the bottom of the nebula to the star cluster at the top.

Ornaments

Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain)

Like a hollowed out ornament, NGC 6357 glows red in the constellation Scorpius. Or, maybe, what I see in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image is a Christmas tree reaching for the stars of the open star cluster Pismis 24.

The stars of Pismis 24 are massive; some more than 100 times heavier than our Sun. The new stars also unleash a powerful stellar wind that shapes the nebula below. Explore the image and wander from the stars down to the nebula. You’ll encounter tall pillars of dense dust and wispy tendrils of gas. My favorite shape in this cloud is the hand and finger pointing up at Pismis 24. Can you find it? All pillars, or elephant trunks, point back toward the flow of the stellar wind. You can also find a new star near the bottom of the image hollowing out a bubble in the nebula. Can you find other shapes in the nebula, such as tadpoles and worms? These denser pockets of gas may shrink down and ignite on their own as stars.

NGC 6357 glows because of the light of the newly formed stars. Intense ultraviolet radiation coming from the star cluster, excites the gas molecules in the nebula and causes them to glow. Astronomers call this kind of nebula and emission nebula. NGC 6357 and Pismis 24 are found in the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion, about 8,000 light-years from Earth. In our starship, traveling at the speed of light, ten years would pass while moving from the star at the bottom of the nebula to the star cluster at the top.

Reaching Fingers

Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O’Connell (University of Virginia), F. Paresce (National Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy), E. Young (Universities Space Research Association/Ames Research Center), the WFC3 Science Oversight Committee, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Ghostly fingers of gas and dust reach up to grab a glittering, young stars of NGC 3603 in this image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the image. NGC 3603 is one of the most active star-making factories that astronomers know of. Most of the stars were born about the same time. A variety of stars with different masses, temperatures and colors can be found throughout the cluster. NGC 3603 also contains some of the most massive stars known. These monster stars live fast, burning through their hydrogen fuel quickly. They die young in huge supernova explosions after living less than a million years.

Also explore the wispy clouds of gas surrounding the cluster. This nebula gave birth to the cluster. The new suns send out a powerful stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation creating a huge cavity in the gas and dust cloud.

NGC 3603 is located right in the backyard; only 20,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Carina, the Keel of the mythical ship Argo Navis. Because the star cluster is so close to Earth, astronomers can get a good idea of how stars form and die.

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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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