Hubble unveils colorful star birth region on 100,000th orbit milestone

Aug 11, 2008
In commemoration of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope completing its 100,000th orbit around the Earth in its 18th year of exploration and discovery, scientists have aimed Hubble to take a snapshot of a dazzling region of celestial birth and renewal. Hubble peered into a small portion of the nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074 (upper, left). The region is a firestorm of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170,000 light-years away near the Tarantula nebula, one of the most active star-forming regions in our Local Group of galaxies. This representative color image was taken on August 10, 2008, with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. Red shows emission from sulphur atoms, green from glowing hydrogen and blue from glowing oxygen. Credit: NASA, ESA and M. Livio (STScI)

During Hubble's 100 000th orbit around the Earth it peered into a small portion of the nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074 (upper, left). The region is a firestorm of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170 000 light-years away near the Tarantula nebula, one of the most active star-forming regions in our Local Group of galaxies.

The three-dimensional-looking image reveals dramatic ridges and valleys of dust, serpent-head "pillars of creation", and gaseous filaments glowing fiercely under torrential ultraviolet radiation. The region is on the edge of a dark molecular cloud that is an incubator for the birth of new stars.

The high-energy radiation blazing out from clusters of hot young stars already born in NGC 2074 is sculpting the wall of the nebula by slowly eroding it away. Another young cluster may be hidden beneath a circle of brilliant blue gas at centre, bottom.

In this approximately 100-light-year-wide fantasy-like landscape, dark towers of dust rise above a glowing wall of gases on the surface of the molecular cloud. The seahorse-shaped pillar at lower, right is approximately 20 light-years long, roughly four times the distance between our Sun and the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

The region is in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite of our Milky Way galaxy. It is a fascinating laboratory for observing star-formation regions and their evolution. Dwarf galaxies like the LMC are considered to be the primitive building blocks of larger galaxies.

This representative colour image was taken on 10 August, 2008, with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. Red shows emission from sulphur atoms, green from glowing hydrogen, and blue from glowing oxygen.

Source: Hubble Information Centre

Explore further: Astronomers solve decades-long mystery of the 'lonely old stars'

Related Stories

New binocular nova discovered in Sagittarius

Mar 17, 2015

Looks like the Sagittarius Teapot's got a new whistle. On March 15, John Seach of Chatsworth Island, NSW, Australia discovered a probable nova in the heart of the constellation using a DSLR camera and fast ...

Carina Nebula survey reveals details of star formation

Mar 09, 2015

A new Rice University-led survey of one of the most active star-forming regions in the galactic neighborhood is helping astronomers better understand the processes that may have contributed to the formation ...

VISTA stares right through the Milky Way

Feb 04, 2015

A new image taken with ESO's VISTA survey telescope reveals the Trifid Nebula in a new light. By observing in infrared light, astronomers can see right through the central parts of the Milky Way and spot ...

Recommended for you

Dusty substructure in a galaxy far far away

16 hours ago

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) have combined high-resolution images from the ALMA telescopes with a new scheme for undoing the distorting effects of a powerful gravitational ...

ALMA disentangles complex birth of giant stars

16 hours ago

A research group led by Aya Higuchi, a researcher at Ibaraki University, conducted observations of the massive-star forming region IRAS 16547-4247 with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). ...

Image: The tumultuous heart of the Large Magellanic Cloud

Mar 31, 2015

A scene of jagged fiery peaks, turbulent magma-like clouds and fiercely hot bursts of bright light. Although this may be reminiscent of a raging fire or the heart of a volcano, it actually shows a cold cosmic ...

User comments : 0

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.