RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "stellar nursery"

Gallery: The Omega Nebula

The Omega Nebula

This image of the Omega Nebula (Messier 17), captured by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT), is one of the sharpest of this object ever taken from the ground. It shows the dusty, rosy central parts of the famous star-forming region.

A NEW IMAGE OF THE HEART of the Omega Nebula, captured by the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), is one of the sharpest of this object ever taken from the ground.

It shows the dusty, rose-colored central parts of this famous stellar nursery and reveals extraordinary detail in the cosmic landscape of gas clouds, dust and newborn stars.

The colourful gas and dark dust in the Omega Nebula serve as the raw materials for creating the next generation of stars.

In this particular section of the nebula, the newest stars on the scene—dazzlingly bright and shining blue-white—light up the whole ensemble. The nebula’s smoky-looking ribbons of dust stand in silhouette against the glowing gas.

The dominant reddish colours of this portion of the cloud-like expanse, arise from hydrogen gas, glowing under the influence of the intense ultraviolet rays from the hot young stars.

The Omega Nebula goes by many names, depending on who observed it when and what they thought they saw. These other titles include the Swan Nebula, the Horseshoe Nebula and even the Lobster Nebula. The object has also been catalogued as Messier 17 (M17) and NGC 6618.

The nebula is located about 6,500 light-years away and is a popular target for astronomers, as it ranks as one of the youngest and most active stellar nurseries for massive stars in the Milky Way.

A wider view of the Omega Nebula

A wider view of the Omega Nebula.

Download wallpapers of the Omega Nebula:

1024×768 (286.1 KB)

1280×1024 (450.0 KB)

1600×1200 (664.9 KB)

1920×1200 (707.6 KB)

Adapted from information issued by ESO.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Like this story? Please share or recommend it…

Stellar nursery is a cliffhanger

Lagoon Nebula's 'Southern Cliff'

The Lagoon Nebula is a glorious cloudscape of dust and gas surrounding a nursery of intermediate- and low-mass stars. This image shows just a small part of it, a region called the 'Southern Cliff'.

  • Lagoon Nebula is a nursery of intermediate- and low-mass stars
  • Located somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 light-years from Earth
  • This image shows the region known as the ‘Southern Cliff’

AN ALL-TIME FAVOURITE OF SKYWATCHERS, the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8 or M8) is among the most striking examples of a ‘stellar nursery’ in our neighbourhood of the Milky Way galaxy. Visible through small telescopes and binoculars its fuzzy glow reveals the type of chaotic environment where new stars are born.

Argentinean astronomers Julia Arias (Universidad de La Serena) and Rodolfo Barbá (Universidad de La Serena and ICATE-CONICET) used the Gemini South telescope in Chile to obtain a dramatic new image of the Lagoon.

Actually, since M8 is located some 5,000 light-years away, the multi-hued scene is a “flashback”…as its photons had to travel through space for that same number of years before they reached Gemini South’s gigantic 8-metre mirror.

The picture reveals a glorious cloudscape of dust and gas surrounding a nursery of intermediate- and low-mass stars.

The image above shows only part of the Lagoon…a region astronomers sometimes call the ‘Southern Cliff’ because it resembles a sharp drop-off. Beyond the “cliff,” light from a spattering of young background stars in the upper left of the image shines through the cloudscape.

The full Lagoon Nebula

The full Lagoon Nebula is a vast region of gas, dust and stars, spanning 110 by 50 light-years.

The glow from growing stars

Arias and Barbá obtained the imaging data to explore the evolutionary relationship between the newborn stars and what are known as Herbig-Haro (HH) objects. HH objects form when young stars eject large amounts of fast-moving gas as they grow.

This gas ploughs into the surrounding nebula, producing bright shock fronts that glow as the gas is heated by friction and surrounding gas is excited by the high-energy radiation of nearby hot stars.

The researchers found a dozen HH objects in the image, range in size from about 1/10,000th of a light-year to 4.6 light-years (the latter being a little greater than the distance from the Sun to its nearest neighbour Proxima Centauri).

Detail image of the Lagoon Nebula's 'Southern Cliff'

Newborn stars are embedded in the tips of these thick dusty clouds.

Most of the newborn stars are embedded in the tips of thick dusty clouds, which have the appearance of bright-rimmed pillars.

The Lagoon Nebula is located in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius in the southern Milky Way. Viewed through large amateur telescopes, it appears as a pale ghostly glow with a touch of pink.

The astronomers used selective filters to reveal characteristics of the gas, and so the colours shown are not representative of the real colour. For example, light from the far-red end of the spectrum, beyond what the eye can see, appears blue in this image.

Download the full-size (5852 x 2667-pixel) image here.

International Facility

The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-metre telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South). Together they provide coverage of the entire sky.

The Observatory is operated as a partnership of research agencies from seven countries: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and the Brazilian Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq).

Adapted from information issued by Gemini Observatory. ‘Southern Cliff’ image courtesy Gemini Observatory / AURA / Julia Arias (Universidad de La Serena) and Rodolfo Barbá (Universidad de La Serena and ICATE-CONICET). Full Lagoon image courtesy ESO / S. Guisard.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Like this story? Please share or recommend it…

Toddler stars tear up the nursery

NGC 6729

Baby stars (hidden behind thick clouds of dust) are ejecting gas at speeds as high as one million kilometres per hour, tearing up the clouds within which they were born.

THE DRAMATIC EFFECT newborn stars have on the gas and dust from which they formed is shown in a new image from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope

Although the stars themselves are not visible, material they have ejected is colliding with the surrounding gas and dust clouds and creating a surreal landscape of glowing arcs, blobs and streaks.

The star-forming region NGC 6729 is part of one of the closest stellar nurseries to the Earth and hence one of the best studied.

Stars form deep within thick gas clouds, which means the earliest stages of their development cannot be seen with visible-light telescopes because of obscuration by dust.

In this image, there are very young stars hidden behind the gas and dust at the upper left of the picture. Although they can’t be seen, the havoc that they have wreaked on their surroundings is clearly visible.

High-speed jets of gas shooting out from the baby stars at velocities as high as one million kilometres per hour are slamming into the surrounding gas and creating shock waves. These shocks cause the gas to shine and form the strangely coloured glowing arcs and blobs known as Herbig–Haro objects.

This enhanced-colour picture was created from images taken using the FORS1 instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Images were taken through two different filters that isolate the light coming from glowing hydrogen (shown as orange) and glowing ionised sulphur (shown as blue).

Adapted from information issued by ESO.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Like this story? Please share or recommend it…