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: How baryon acoustic oscillation reveals the expansion of the 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

How gamma ray telescopes work

49 minutes ago

Yesterday I talked about the detection of gamma ray bursts, intense blasts of gamma rays that occasionally appear in distant galaxies. Gamma ray bursts were only detected when gamma ray satellites were put ...

The frequency of high-energy gamma ray bursts

2 hours ago

In the 1960s a series of satellites were built as part of Project Vela.  Project Vela was intended to detect violations of the 1963 ban on above ground testing of nuclear weapons.  The Vela satellites were ...

What causes the diffraction spikes in images of stars?

2 hours ago

When stars are portrayed in media, they are often shown with long spikes emanating from them. Perhaps the most common example is that of the "star of Bethlehem" which, according to the story, led the wise ...

User comments : 0