Cosmic ice sculptures: Dust pillars in the Carina Nebula

Sep 16, 2010
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Project (STScI/AURA)

Enjoying a frozen treat on a hot summer day can leave a sticky mess as it melts in the Sun and deforms. In the cold vacuum of space, there is no edible ice cream, but there is radiation from massive stars that is carving away at cold molecular clouds, creating bizarre, fantasy-like structures.

These one-light-year-tall pillars of cold hydrogen and dust, imaged by the , are located in the Carina Nebula. Violent stellar winds and powerful radiation from are sculpting the surrounding nebula. Inside the dense structures, new stars may be born.

This image of dust pillars in the Carina Nebula is a composite of 2005 observations taken of the region in hydrogen light (light emitted by ) along with 2010 observations taken in oxygen light (light emitted by oxygen atoms), both times with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The immense Carina Nebula is an estimated 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This scientific visualization creates a three-dimensional virtual tour of several dark pillars of cool gas in the Carina Nebula. The stars and nebula layers from Hubble's two-dimensional image have been separated using both scientific knowledge and artistic license to create the depth in the movie. Of note, the relative distances between stars and the nebula have been greatly compressed. The result is an intriguing journey through a virtual cosmic landscape. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (STScI)


Explore further: Astronomers measure weight of galaxies, expansion of universe

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hubble's Celestial Landscape

Oct 02, 2008

(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 ...

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 ...

Spitzer Captures Fruits of Massive Stars' Labors

May 31, 2005

The saga of how a few monstrous stars spawned a diverse community of additional stars is told in a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The striking picture reveals an eclectic mix of embryonic stars ...

AKARI's view on birth and death of stars

Aug 28, 2006

AKARI, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) infrared astronomical satellite with ESA participation, is continuing its survey of the sky and its mapping of our cosmos in infrared light. New exciting ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

Astronomers measure weight of galaxies, expansion of universe

6 hours ago

Astronomers at the University of British Columbia have collaborated with international researchers to calculate the precise mass of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, dispelling the notion that the two galaxies have similar ...

Mysterious molecules in space

17 hours ago

Over the vast, empty reaches of interstellar space, countless small molecules tumble quietly though the cold vacuum. Forged in the fusion furnaces of ancient stars and ejected into space when those stars ...

Comet Jacques makes a 'questionable' appearance

Jul 28, 2014

What an awesome photo! Italian amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri nailed it earlier today using a remote telescope in New Mexico and wide-field 4-inch (106 mm) refractor. Currently the brightest comet in ...

Image: Our flocculent neighbour, the spiral galaxy M33

Jul 28, 2014

The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the ...

Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

Jul 25, 2014

More than four centuries after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe first observed the supernova that bears his name, the supernova remnant it created is now a bright source of X-rays. The supersonic expansion of ...

User comments : 0