Celestial fireworks from dying stars (w/ video)

Apr 13, 2011
This picture of the star formation region NGC 3582 was taken using the Wide Field Imager at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The image reveals giant loops of gas ejected by dying stars that bear a striking resemblance to solar prominences. Credit: ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2 and Joe DePasquale

(PhysOrg.com) -- This image of the nebula NGC 3582, which was captured at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, shows giant loops of gas bearing a striking resemblance to solar prominences. These loops are thought to have been ejected by dying stars, but new stars are also being born within this stellar nursery. These energetic youngsters emit intense ultraviolet radiation that makes the gas in the nebula glow, producing the fiery display shown here.

NGC 3582 is part of a large star-forming region in the Milky Way, called RCW 57. It lies close to the central plane of the Milky Way in the southern constellation of Carina (The Keel of Jason's ship, the Argo). John Herschel first saw this complex region of glowing gas and dark dust clouds in 1834, during his stay in South Africa.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This sequence starts with a wide-field view of the most spectacular parts of the southern Milky Way. As we zoom in we see the Southern Cross (Crux) and the famous Eta Carinae nebula. A little later we close in on the star-forming region NGC 3582, lying about 10 000 light-years from us in the constellation of Carina (The Keel). The final detailed view shows a new image of NGC 3582 and its surroundings from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Credit: ESO/A. Fujii/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Music: John Dyson (from the album Moonwind)

Some of the stars forming in regions like NGC 3582 are much heavier than the Sun. These monster emit energy at prodigious rates and have very short lives that end in explosions as supernovae. The material ejected from these dramatic events creates bubbles in the surrounding gas and dust. This is the probable cause of the loops visible in this picture.

This image was taken through multiple filters. From the Wide Field Imager, data taken through a red filter are shown in green and red, and data taken through a filter that isolates the red glow characteristic of hydrogen are also shown in red. Additional from the are shown in blue.

The image was processed by ESO using the observational data identified by Joe DePasquale, from the United States, who participated in ESO's Hidden Treasures 2010 astrophotography competition. The competition was organised by ESO in October-November 2010, for everyone who enjoys making beautiful images of the using astronomical data obtained using professional telescopes.

Explore further: Thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars set speed record

Related Stories

The Orion nebula: Still full of surprises

Jan 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- This ethereal-looking image of the Orion Nebula was captured using the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory, Chile. This nebula is much more than ...

On the Trail of a Cosmic Cat (w/ Video)

Jan 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- ESO has just released a stunning new image of the vast cloud known as the Cat’s Paw Nebula or NGC 6334. This complex region of gas and dust, where numerous massive stars are born, lies near ...

Brilliant Star in a Colourful Neighbourhood

Jul 28, 2010

A spectacular new image from ESO's Wide Field Imager at the La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the brilliant and unusual star WR 22 and its colorful surroundings. WR 22 is a very hot and bright star that ...

Strong winds over the keel

Feb 12, 2009

The large and beautiful image displays the full variety of this impressive skyscape, spattered with clusters of young stars, large nebulae of dust and gas, dust pillars, globules, and adorned by one of the ...

A sparkling spray of stars

Dec 16, 2008

NGC 2264 lies about 2600 light-years from Earth in the obscure constellation of Monoceros, the Unicorn, not far from the more familiar figure of Orion, the Hunter. The image shows a region of space about 30 ...

Hubble snaps sharp image of cosmic concoction (w/ Video)

Jul 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A colourful star-forming region is featured in this stunning new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 2467. Looking like a roiling cauldron of some exotic cosmic brew, huge clouds ...

Recommended for you

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

21 hours ago

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

User comments : 0