Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Pillars Of Creation Formed In The Shadows
by Staff Writers
Hertfordshire, UK (SPX) Apr 27, 2009

The Eagle Nebula pillars (right) are examples of these structures, but there are many others, often called "Elephant Trunks" by astronomers because of their elongated appearance. Click here for more image ands captions

Research by astronomers at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies suggests that shadows hold the key to how giant star-forming structures like the famous "Pillars of Creation" take shape.

The pillars are dense columns within giant clouds of dust and gas where massive stars form. Several theories have been proposed to explain why the pillars develop around the edge of ionized gas bubbles surrounding young, very hot stars. Using computer models, the Dublin group has found that partially-shadowed clumps of gas tend to creep towards darker areas, causing pile-ups behind dense knots of gas and dust that screen the intense ultraviolet light emitted by the stars.

Jonathan Mackey, who is presenting the results at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Hatfield said, "We created a simulation with a random distribution of lots of dense clouds with different sizes and shapes.

"We found that in certain cases a number of clouds can merge together in the shadows to form structures that look very like observed pillars. They are sufficiently dense to match the observations, can form in about 150,000 years and can survive for about 100,000 years. Although this is a preliminary study, we believe our results are quite robust and will be confirmed by more detailed modeling."

The team, led by Dr. Andrew Lim, found that the configuration of clumps of gas had to be favorable for the pillars to form. Some age estimates put the Eagle Nebula pillars at no more than 100,000 years old, and models show that the shadow from a single clump would not attain the density to form a pillar in that relatively short timescale.

"Many of our models do not produce pillars that are as long and narrow as those in the Eagle Nebula, at least not at the observed gas density. It needs the right configuration of dense clumps of gas to form a long pillar. Unless the shadowed region is already very dense to begin with, it just takes too long to collect and organize the gas into a pillar," said Lim.

The group plans to add increasing levels of realism to the model over the next couple of years, bringing in more accurate representations of the complex chemistry of interstellar gas, the effects of radiation from diffuse sources. Adding in the effects of gravity will also be important as the pillars contain dense gas condensations which are in the process of collapsing under their own weight to form the next generation of stars.

Mackey said, "Gravity is relatively unimportant when the pillars are forming, but there comes a point when they get very dense and it cannot be ignored any longer. We plan to include gravitation in future work so that we can study the next generation of stars which are forming in the pillars."


Related Links
Formation of Elephant Trunks in H II Regions
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Dust Cleared To Get Better Look At Youngest Supernova Remnant
Raleigh NC (SPX) Apr 24, 2009
Researchers at North Carolina State University have used a mathematical model that allows them to get a clearer picture of the galaxy's youngest supernova remnant by correcting for the distortions caused by cosmic dust. Their new data provides evidence that this remnant is from a type Ia supernova - the explosion of a white dwarf star - and raises questions about the ways in which magnetic ... read more

Indian Lunar Orbiter Sends Back Images To Establish Water Presence On Moon

US scientists plan greenhouses on the Moon

NASA Twin Spacecraft May Reveal Secret Of Lunar Origin

Earthshine Reflects Earth's Oceans And Continents From Dark Side Of Moon

Spirit Resumes Driving While Analysis Of Problem Behaviors Continues

Early Martian Environment And Water Drive Search For Life Forms

Mars Science Laboratory Parachute Qualification Testing

Cleaning Event Boosts Energy For Mars Rover Opportunity

Bone-Density Monitor Would Let Astronauts Test While In Space

China expert recruitment project nets first batch: report

Astronaut Tweets Provide Inside Look At Hubble Training

Two-time space tourist returns to Earth

China Launches Yaogan VI Remote-Sensing Satellite

China Able To Send Man To Moon Around 2020

China To Launch 15 To 16 Satellites In 2009

Macao Donates 14 Million Yuan To Mainland Space Program

Happy US-Russian crew deny 'divorce in space'

NASA to unveil space station name on Colbert show

Expedition 18 Crew Set To Return Home

Crews Prepare For Expedition 18 Departure

Continental Provides New Tires For Payload Transporter

NATO satellite launched on Russian-Ukrainian rocket

SpaceX Delays Razaksat Launch

Sea Launch Counts Down To SICRAL 1B Launch

Super-Earth And An Ocean World

Mass Loss Leaves Close-In Exoplanets Exposed To The Core

Lightest Exoplanet Yet Discovered

Kepler Captures First Views Of Planet-Hunting Territory

New Book Highlights Success Stories In Satellite Systems

A Glimpse Of Future GMES Sentinel-1 Radar Images

Lockheed Martin Contract To Support Long-Range Surveillance Radars In The Amazon

SciSys Captures Key Security Project For On-Board Satellite Software

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal 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