Super-detailed image of giant stellar nursery

Apr 19, 2007

An international team of astronomers have collaborated to create the most detailed image ever produced of the Rosette Nebula (NGC 2237), a giant stellar nursery.

The new image was assembled using data from INT Photometric H-Alpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS) and covers four square degrees of sky, equivalent in size to about twenty times the size of the full moon. Robert Greimel from the University of Graz, Austria, will present results from the survey in a talk on Wednesday 18 April at the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting in Preston.

The Rosette nebula is a vast cloud of dust and gas spanning 100 light years and lying about 4500 light-years away, in the direction of the constellation of Monoceros. Inside the nebula lies a cluster of bright, massive, young stars (NGC 2244), whose strong stellar winds and radiation have cleared a hole in the nebula's centre. Ultraviolet light from these hot stars excites the surrounding nebula, causing it to glow.

Star formation is still active around the nebula, as proven by the presence of a very young infrared star (AFGL 961) still in its final stages of formation. It is thought that the young massive stars in the nebula will one day blow all the gas and dust away. The centre of the Rosette Nebula is about 1.8 degrees below the Galactic Plane, the glow from which can be seen at the top left (northeastern) corner of this image.

Due to the large size of the nebula on the sky, most large telescopes are unable to capture the entire nebula in one exposure and therefore the highest resolution images have been limited to small areas of the nebula. The IPHAS team is in the process of imaging the entire plane of our Galaxy and members of the survey team were able to combine almost 200 individual images to make this large and detailed H-alpha image.

Nick Wright from University College, London, commented, “"The superb quality of this image reflects the high quality and large amounts of data produced by the IPHAS survey. Using images like this one, many members of our collaboration are working hard to make important discoveries about the structure and content of our Galaxy."

Even more detailed images of the central parts of the Rosette Nebula have also been prepared by the IPHAS team, including one of dense dust lanes in the nebula where star formation may still be ongoing.

IPHAS is a survey of the entire Northern Galactic Plane at three different wavelengths, using the Wide Field Camera on the 2.5m Isaac Newton Telescope sited on La Palma in the Canary Islands. When complete, it will cover an area of 1800 square degrees. The survey is now almost finished and the first release of the catalogue is expected by June 2007. IPHAS will soon be followed by VPHAS+, a complementary Southern Galactic Plane survey using the ESO 2.5m VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile.

Source: Royal Astronomical Society

Explore further: 'Habitable' planet GJ 581d previously dismissed as noise probably does exist

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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 ...

3D map shows dusty structure of the Milky Way

Jun 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —A team of international astronomers has created a detailed three-dimensional map of the dusty structure of the Milky Way – the star-studded bright disc of our own galaxy – as seen from Earth's ...

Image: Spitzer at 10

Oct 01, 2013

The infrared observatory Spitzer has been at work for 10 years, revealing the cool dusty regions where stars and planets form, as well as shedding light on planets, exoplanets, stars and galaxies. Spitzer ...

Recommended for you

How far back are we looking in time?

10 hours ago

The Universe is a magic time window, allowing us to peer into the past. The further out we look, the further back in time we see. Despite our brains telling us things we see happen at the instant we view ...

'Planck' puts Einstein to the test

Mar 05, 2015

Researchers, including physicists from Heidelberg University, have gained new insights into dark energy and the theory of gravitation by analysing data from the "Planck" satellite mission of the European ...

Distant supernova split four ways by gravitational lens

Mar 05, 2015

Over the past several decades, astronomers have come to realize that the sky is filled with magnifying glasses that allow the study of very distant and faint objects barely visible with even the largest telescopes.

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.