Hubble's Celestial Landscape

October 2, 2008
Image: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

(PhysOrg.com) -- The landmark 10th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope's Hubble Heritage Project is being celebrated with a "landscape" image from the cosmos. Cutting across a nearby star-forming region are the "hills and valleys" of gas and dust displayed in intricate detail. Set amid a backdrop of soft, glowing blue light are wispy tendrils of gas as well as dark trunks of dust that are light-years in height.

The Hubble Heritage Project, which began in October 1998, has released nearly 130 images mined from the Hubble data archive as well as a number of observations taken specifically for the project. By releasing a new, previously unseen Hubble image every month, the team's intent was to showcase some of the most attractive images ever taken by the Hubble telescope, and share them with a wide audience. The Heritage team continues to create aesthetic images that present the universe from an artistic perspective.

This month's three-dimensional-looking Hubble image shows the edge of the giant gaseous cavity within the star-forming region called NGC 3324. The glowing nebula has been carved out by intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from several hot, young stars. A cluster of extremely massive stars, located well outside this image in the center of the nebula, is responsible for the ionization of the nebula and excavation of the cavity.

The image also reveals dramatic dark towers of cool gas and dust that rise above the glowing wall of gas. The dense gas at the top resists the blistering ultraviolet radiation from the central stars, and creates a tower that points in the direction of the energy flow. The high-energy radiation blazing out from the hot, young stars in NGC 3324 is sculpting the wall of the nebula by slowly eroding it away.

Located in the Southern Hemisphere, NGC 3324 is at the northwest corner of the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372), home of the Keyhole Nebula and the active, outbursting star Eta Carinae. The entire Carina Nebula complex is located at a distance of roughly 7,200 light-years, and lies in the constellation Carina.

This image is a composite of data taken with two of Hubble's science instruments. Data taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) in 2006 isolated light emitted by hydrogen. More recent data, taken in 2008 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), isolated light emitted by sulfur and oxygen gas. To create a color composite, the data from the sulfur filter are represented by red, from the oxygen filter by blue, and from the hydrogen filter by green.

The Heritage project has released images using several of Hubble's optical cameras: the Wide Field Planetary Camera (WF/PC), which was installed when the telescope was first deployed in 1990; WFPC2, which replaced WFPC in 1993 and is still in service today; and ACS, which was added in 2002. After the Hubble Servicing Mission, which is scheduled for 2009, the Hubble Heritage team hopes to continue using ACS as well as the newest of the optical cameras, Wide Field Camera 3.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Hubble detects giant 'cannonballs' shooting from star

Related Stories

Hubble detects giant 'cannonballs' shooting from star

October 6, 2016

Great balls of fire! NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected superhot blobs of gas, each twice as massive as the planet Mars, being ejected near a dying star. The plasma balls are zooming so fast through space it would ...

Image: Nebula with spiral arms

October 10, 2016

The two spiral arms winding towards the bright centre might deceive you into thinking you are looking at a galaxy a bit like our Milky Way. But the object starring in this image is of a different nature: PK 329-02.2 is a ...

ALMA explores the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

September 22, 2016

An international team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has explored the same distant corner of the universe first revealed in the iconic image of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF).

Hubble views a colorful demise of a sun-like star

September 26, 2016

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the colorful "last hurrah" of a star like our sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's ...

Recommended for you

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

December 9, 2016

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of ...

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

December 9, 2016

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in ...

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

December 9, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TimESimmons
1 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2008
Now why would those clouds form in space and be so cloud-shaped?

http://www.presto...ndex.htm
Bob_B
not rated yet Oct 02, 2008
Is this a quiz? Hmmm, posing for a picture?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.