January 21, 2016

Hubble Unveils a Tapestry of Dazzling Diamond-Like Stars

Trumpler 14

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the star cluster Trumpler 14. One of the largest gatherings of hot, massive and bright stars in the Milky Way, this cluster houses some of the most luminous stars in our entire galaxy.

Resembling an opulent diamond tapestry, this image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a glittering star cluster that contains a collection of some of the brightest stars seen in our Milky Way galaxy. Called Trumpler 14, it is located 8,000 light-years away in the Carina Nebula, a huge star-formation region. Because the cluster is only 500,000 years old, it has one of the highest concentrations of massive, luminous stars in the entire Milky Way. (The small, dark knot left of center is a nodule of gas laced with dust, and seen in silhouette.)

Diamonds are forever, but these blue-white stars are not. They are burning their hydrogen fuel so ferociously they will explode as supernovae in just a few million years. The combination of outflowing stellar "winds" and, ultimately, supernova blast waves will carve out cavities in nearby clouds of gas and dust. These fireworks will kick-start the beginning of a new generation of stars in an ongoing cycle of star birth and death.

This composite image of Trumpler 14 was made with data taken in 2005-2006 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Blue, visible, and infrared broadband filters combine with filters that isolate hydrogen and nitrogen emission from the glowing gas surrounding the open cluster.

Image Credit: NASA & ESA, Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia)
Explanation from: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2016/03/image/a/ and https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1601a/

January 18, 2016

Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24

Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24

The two lightsabre-like streams crossing the image are jets of energised gas, ejected from the poles of a young star. If the jets collide with the surrounding gas and dust they can clear vast spaces, and create curved shock waves, seen as knotted clumps called Herbig-Haro objects.

Just about anything is possible in our remarkable universe, and it often competes with the imaginings of science fiction writers and filmmakers. Hubble's latest contribution is a striking photo of what looks like a double-bladed lightsaber straight out of the Star Wars films. In the center of the image, partially obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust, a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space as a sort of birth announcement to the universe. Gas from a surrounding disk rains down onto the dust-obscured protostar and engorges it. The material is superheated and shoots outward from the star in opposite directions along an uncluttered escape route — the star's rotation axis. Much more energetic than a science fiction lightsaber, these narrow energetic beams are blasting across space at over 100,000 miles per hour. This celestial lightsaber does not lie in a galaxy far, far away but rather inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Padgett (GSFC), T. Megeath (University of Toledo), and B. Reipurth (University of Hawaii)
Explanation from: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/42/ and https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1526a/