Hubble's Celestial Landscape

Oct 02, 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: New space telescope concept could image objects at far higher resolution than Hubble

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made

4 hours ago

Theoretical physicists at Rice University are living on the edge as they study the astounding properties of graphene. In a new study, they figure out how researchers can fracture graphene nanoribbons to get ...

Infrared imaging technique operates at high temperatures

4 hours ago

From aerial surveillance to cancer detection, mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) radiation has a wide range of applications. And as the uses for high-sensitivity, high-resolution imaging continue to expand, MWIR sources are becoming ...

Recommended for you

Chandra celebrates the International Year of Light

Jan 23, 2015

The year of 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light (IYL) by the United Nations. Organizations, institutions, and individuals involved in the science and applications of light will be joining ...

Why is Andromeda coming toward us?

Jan 23, 2015

I don't want to alarm you, but there's a massive galaxy heading our way and will collide with us in a few billion years. But aren't most galaxies speeding away? Why is Andromeda on a collision course with ...

The cosmic chemistry that gave rise to water

Jan 22, 2015

Earth's water has a mysterious past stretching back to the primordial clouds of gas that birthed the Sun and other stars. By using telescopes and computer simulations to study such star nurseries, researchers ...

User comments : 2

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.