Celestial Season's Greetings from Hubble

Dec 19, 2006
Celestial Season's Greetings from Hubble
This image of star-formation region LH 95 was taken in March 2006 with Hubble´s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration Acknowledgment: D. Gouliermis (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg)

Swirls of gas and dust reside in this ethereal-looking region of star formation imaged by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. This majestic view, located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), reveals a region where low-mass, infant stars and their much more massive stellar neighbors reside. A shroud of blue haze gently lingers amid the stars.

Known as LH 95, this is just one of the hundreds of star-forming systems, called associations, located in the LMC some 160,000 light-years distant. Earlier ground-based observations of such systems had only allowed astronomers to study the bright blue giant stars present in these regions. With Hubble's resolution, the low-mass stars can now be analyzed, which will allow for a more accurate calculation of their ages and masses.

This detailed view of the star-forming association LH 95 was taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and provides an extraordinarily rich sample of newly formed low-mass stars. The LMC is a galaxy with relatively small amounts of elements heavier than hydrogen, giving astronomers an insight into star formation in environments different than our Milky Way.

The largest stars within LH 95 - those with at least three times the mass of the Sun - generate strong stellar winds and high levels of ultraviolet radiation that heat the surrounding interstellar gas. The result is a bluish nebula of glowing hydrogen that continues to expand out into the molecular cloud that originally collapsed to form these massive stars.

Some dense parts of this star-forming region are intact despite the stellar winds, and can still be seen as dark dusty filaments in the picture. Such dust lanes absorb parts of the blue light from the stars behind them, making them appear redder. Other parts of the molecular cloud have already contracted to turn into glowing groups of infant stars, the fainter of which have a high tendency to cluster. This deep Hubble image also reveals several large spiral and distant galaxies decorating the background of LH 95.

This image of LH 95 is a composite of two filters that localize visible (V) and infrared (I) light. Because of the color assignments chosen, doubly ionized hydrogen, which is visible within the V filter, appears bluish. The choice of color assignment helps to distinguish hot bright blue stars from cooler, less luminous red stars.

Source: Space Telescope Science Institute

Explore further: A new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence: targeting alien polluters

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google made failed bid for Spotify

1 hour ago

Internet titan Google tried last year to buy streaming music service Spotify but backed off for reasons including a whopping price tag, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Thieves got into 1K StubHub accounts

2 hours ago

(AP)—Cyber thieves got into more than 1,000 StubHub customers' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets for events through the online ticket reseller, a law enforcement official and the company said Tuesday.

Microsoft CEO sees 'bold' plan as 4Q tops Street

2 hours ago

(AP)—Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella painted an upbeat vision of the future Tuesday, saying that the next version of Windows will be unified across screens of all sizes and that two money-losing units—Nokia ...

Recommended for you

Satellite galaxies put astronomers in a spin

9 hours ago

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), has studied 380 galaxies and shown that their small satellite galaxies almost always ...

Video: The diversity of habitable zones and the planets

9 hours ago

The field of exoplanets has rapidly expanded from the exclusivity of exoplanet detection to include exoplanet characterization. A key step towards this characterization is the determination of which planets occupy the Habitable ...

Ultra-deep astrophoto of the Antenna Galaxies

9 hours ago

You might think the image above of the famous Antenna Galaxies was taken by a large ground-based or even a space telescope. Think again. Amateur astronomer Rolf Wahl Olsen from New Zealand compiled a total ...

The most precise measurement of an alien world's size

11 hours ago

Thanks to NASA's Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes, scientists have made the most precise measurement ever of the radius of a planet outside our solar system. The size of the exoplanet, dubbed Kepler-93b, ...

User comments : 0