Uncovering the Veil (Nebula)
NASA – The Veil Nebula, left behind by the explosion of a massive star thousands of years ago, is one of the largest and most spectacular supernova remnants in the sky.
The image was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in November 1994 and August 1997. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration; Acknowledgment: J. Hester (Arizona State University)
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Posted in Nature, Science, SPACE WATCH, Technology
Tagged Arizona State University, Astronomy, Hubble Space Telescope, NASA, Space, Star, Supernova remnant, Veil Nebula, Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2
Hubble Sees Glittering Jewels of Messier 9
NASA – The Hubble Space Telescope has produced the most detailed image so far of Messier 9, a globular star cluster located close to the center of the galaxy. This ball of stars is too faint to see with the naked eye, yet Hubble can see over 250,000 individual stars shining in it.
Messier 9, pictured here, is a globular cluster, a roughly spherical swarm of stars that lies around 25,000 light-years from Earth, near the center of the Milky Way, so close that the gravitational forces from the galactic center pull it slightly out of shape.
Globular clusters are thought to harbor some of the oldest stars in our galaxy, born when the universe was just a small fraction of its current age. As well as being far older than the sun — around twice its age — the stars of Messier 9 also have a markedly different composition, and are enriched with far fewer heavier elements than the sun.
In particular, the elements crucial to life on Earth, like oxygen and carbon, and the iron that makes up our planet’s core, are very scarce in Messier 9 and clusters like it. This is because the universe’s heavier elements were gradually formed in the cores of stars, and in supernova explosions. When the stars of Messier 9 formed, there were far smaller quantities of these elements in existence.
As well as showing the individual stars, Hubble’s image clearly shows the different colors of the stars. A star’s color is directly related to its temperature — counter-intuitively, perhaps, the redder it is, the cooler it is; and the bluer it is, the hotter. The wide range of stellar temperatures here is clearly displayed by the broad palette of colors visible in this image. Image Credit: NASA and ESA
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Posted in Nature, Science, SPACE WATCH, Technology
Tagged European Space Agency, Globular cluster, Hubble Space Telescope, Messier 9, Milky Way, NASA, Star, Star cluster, United States
Carina Nebula: 14,000+ Stars
NASA – The Carina Nebula is a star-forming region in the Sagittarius-Carina arm of the Milky Way that is 7,500 light years from Earth and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory has detected more than 14,000 stars in the region.
Chandra’s X-ray vision provides strong evidence that massive stars have self-destructed in this nearby star-forming region. Firstly, there is an observed deficit of bright X-ray sources in the area known as Trumpler 15, suggesting that some of the massive stars in this cluster were already destroyed in supernova explosions. Trumpler 15 is located in the northern part of the image and is one of ten star clusters in the Carina complex.
The detection of six possible neutron stars, the dense cores often left behind after stars explode in supernovas, provides additional evidence that supernova activity is increasing up in Carina. Previous observations had only detected one neutron star in Carina. Image Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/L. Townsley et al.
Trigger-Happy Star Formation
NASA – This composite image, created using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope, shows the molecular cloud Cepheus B, located in our galaxy about 2,400 light years from the Earth. A molecular cloud is a region containing cool interstellar gas and dust left over from the formation of the galaxy and mostly contains molecular hydrogen. The Spitzer data, in red, green and blue shows the molecular cloud (in the bottom part of the image) plus young stars in and around Cepheus B, and the Chandra data in violet shows the young stars in the field.
The Chandra observations allowed the astronomers to pick out young stars within and near Cepheus B, identified by their strong X-ray emission. The Spitzer data showed whether the young stars have a so-called “protoplanetary” disk around them. Such disks only exist in very young systems where planets are still forming, so their presence is an indication of the age of a star system.
These data provide an excellent opportunity to test a model for how stars form. The new study suggests that star formation in Cepheus B is mainly triggered by radiation from one bright, massive star (HD 217086) outside the molecular cloud. According to the particular model of triggered star formation that was tested — called the radiation- driven implosion (RDI) model — radiation from this massive star drives a compression wave into the cloud triggering star formation in the interior, while evaporating the cloud’s outer layers.
Different types of triggered star formation have been observed in other environments. For example, the formation of our solar system was thought to have been triggered by a supernova explosion, In the star-forming region W5, a “collect-and-collapse” mechanism is thought to apply, where shock fronts generated by massive stars sweep up material as they progress outwards. Eventually the accumulated gas becomes dense enough to collapse and form hundreds of stars. The RDI mechanism is also thought to be responsible for the formation of dozens of stars in W5. The main cause of star formation that does not involve triggering is where a cloud of gas cools, gravity gets the upper hand, and the cloud falls in on itself. Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/K. Getman et al.; IRL NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J. Wang et al.