Resembling curling flames from a campfire, this magnificent nebula in a neighboring galaxy is giving astronomers new insight into the fierce birth of stars as it may have more commonly happened in the early universe.
The glowing gas cloud, called Hubble-V, has a diameter of about 200 light-years. A faint tail of nebulosity trailing off the top of the image sits opposite a dense cluster of bright stars at the bottom of the irregularly shaped nebula.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's resolution and ultraviolet sensitivity reveals a dense knot of dozens of ultra-hot stars nestled in the nebula, each glowing 100,000 times brighter than our Sun.
These youthful 4-million-year-old stars are too distant and crowded together to be resolved from ground-based telescopes. The small, irregular host galaxy, called NGC 6822, is one of the Milky Way's closest neighbors and is considered prototypical of the earliest fragmentary galaxies that inhabited the young universe. The galaxy is 1.6 million light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.
Hubble's spectacular resolution allowed a group of European and American astronomers to pinpoint individual stars in this crowded region and measure their brightness and temperatures. (Hubble-V represents one of two star-birth regions studied by the astronomers.)
They made their extensive analysis because of the telescope's ability to detect ultraviolet light, which is emitted by the hottest young stars. Their analysis has provided a better understanding of the populations of stars inside the cloud.
Hubble's sharp "eye" also allowed the astronomers to estimate the temperatures, brightness, ages, and masses of many stars. From this information, the astronomers determined that many of the stars formed at the same time.
The hot, massive stars emit a tremendous amount of radiation, which sculpted and illuminated the large gas cloud in which the stars were born. The cloud is actually composed of several "bubbles" of gas blown by the hefty stars. The hot radiation also energizes the gas, making it glow.
Besides unleashing powerful ultraviolet radiation, the massive stars also lose a significant amount of mass in "stellar winds." These winds travel at supersonic speeds (up to 6.7 million miles an hour or 10.8 million kilometers an hour), carrying away up to more than a solar mass per star every million years.
The winds slam into the surrounding gas cloud, and may play a major role in triggering star formation of smaller-mass stars. The young stellar families in Hubble-V are revealing the exact roles of all the stars in a stellar breeding ground. Hubble-V resides in a galaxy called NGC 6822, 1.6 million light-years away.
Why are these very massive stars so important?
And they do so very effectively, too.
A very massive star completes its life cycle in about 10 million years (1,000 times faster than the Sun). As a massive star reaches the end of its life, it releases most of its processed material back into space by exploding as a supernova or by shedding it more gently, forming the delicate shells of a planetary nebula.
The Hubble-V image data was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) by two science teams: C. Robert O'Dell of Vanderbilt University and collaborators, and Luciana Bianchi of Johns Hopkins University and Osservatorio Astronomico, Torinese, Italy, and collaborators.
This color image was produced by The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI). A Hubble image of Hubble-X, another intense star-forming region in NGC 6822, was released by The Heritage Team in January 2001.
Star Factory In NGC 6822 - More Pixs
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express
Painting with Oxygen and Hydrogen
Paris - Oct 18, 2001
A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope is an example of 'painting with light'. Astronomers use the separated colours produced by oxygen and hydrogen to investigate star-forming processes in the nebula NGC 2080. The colours explain much about the nature of such nebulae.
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|