Hubble sees stellar incubator

Hubble image of NGC 2467

A newly-released Hubble Space Telescope image of the colourful star-forming region NGC 2467, where huge clouds of gas and dust are sprinkled with bright blue, hot young stars.

Strangely shaped dust clouds, resembling spilled liquids, are silhouetted against a colourful background of glowing gas in this newly released Hubble image.

The star-forming region NGC 2467 is a vast cloud of gas—mostly hydrogen—that serves as an incubator for new stars. Some of these youthful stars have emerged from the dense clouds where they were born and now shine brightly, hot and blue in this picture, but many others remain hidden.

Hints of the astrophysical processes at work are revealed within the image.

Hot young stars that recently formed from the cloud are emitting fierce ultraviolet radiation that is causing the whole scene to glow while also sculpting the environment and gradually eroding the gas clouds.

Studies have shown that most of the radiation comes from the single hot and brilliant massive star just above the centre of the image. Its fierce radiation has emptied the surrounding region and some of the next generation of stars are forming in the denser regions around the edge.

NGC 2467 is a similar but more distant cousin to the Orion Nebula, a famous “star-forming” region.

Such stellar nurseries can be seen out to considerable distances in the Universe, and their study is important in determining the distance and chemical composition of other galaxies.

Some galaxies contain huge star-forming regions, containing tens of thousands of stars.

NGC 2467 was discovered in the 19th century and lies in the southern constellation Puppis, which represents the poop deck of Jason’s fabled ship Argo from Greek mythology. NGC 2467 is thought to lie about 13,000 light-years from Earth.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / ESA / Orsola De Marco (Macquarie University).

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