356 Crucible of Creation: Panoramic Image of Center of the Orion Nebula
This spectacular color panorama of the center the Orion nebula is one of the largest pictures ever assembled from individual images taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The picture, seamlessly composited from a mosaic of 15 separate fields, covers an area of sky about five percent the area covered by the full Moon. The seemingly infinite tapestry of rich detail revealed by Hubble shows a churning turbulent star factory set within a maelstrom of flowing, luminescent gas. Though this 2.5 light-years wide view is still a small portion of the entire nebula, it includes almost all of the light from the bright glowing clouds of gas and a star cluster associated with the nebula. Hubble reveals details as small as 4.1 billion miles across. Hubble Space Telescope observing time was devoted to making this panorama because the nebula is a vast laboratory for studying the processes which gave birth to our own Sun and solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Many of the nebula's details can't be captured in a single picture - any more than one snapshot of the Grand Canyon yields clues to its formation and history. Like the Grand Canyon, the Orion nebula has a dramatic surface topography - of glowing gasses instead of rock - with peaks, valleys and walls. They are illuminated and heated by a torrent of energetic ultraviolet light from its four hottest and most massive stars, called the Trapezium, which lie near the center of the image. In addition to the Trapezium, this stellar cavern contains 700 hundred other young stars at various stages of formation. High-speed jets of hot gas spewed by some of the infant stars send supersonic shock waves tearing into the nebula at 100,000 miles per hour. These shock waves appear as thin curved loops, sometimes with bright knots on their end (the brightest examples are near the bright star at the lower left). The mosaic reveals at least 153 glowing protoplanetary disks (first discovered with the Hubble in 1992, and dubbed "proplyds") that are believed to be embryonic solar systems that will eventually form planets. (Our solar system has long been considered the relic of just such a disk that formed around the newborn Sun). The abundance of such objects in the Orion nebula strengthens the argument that planet formation is a common occurrence in the universe. The proplyds that are closest to the Trapezium stars (image center) are shedding some of their gas and dust. The pressure of starlight from the hottest stars forms "tails" which act like wind vanes pointing away from the Trapezium. These tails result from the light from the star pushing the dust and gas away from the outside layers of the proplyds. In addition to the luminescent proplyds, seven disks are silhouetted against the bright background of the nebula. These dark objects allow Hubble astronomers to estimate the masses of the disks as at least 0.1 to 730 times the mass of our Earth. Located 1,500 light-years away, along our spiral arm of the Milky Way, the Orion nebula is located in the middle of the sword region of the constellation Orion the Hunter, which dominates the early winter evening sky, at northern latitudes. The stars have formed from collapsing clouds of interstellar gas within the last million years. The most massive clouds have formed the brightest stars near the center and these are so hot that they illuminate the gas left behind after the period of star formation was complete. The more numerous faint stars are still in the process of collapsing under their own gravity, but have become hot enough in their centers to be self luminous bodies. Technical information: To create this color mosaic, 45 separate images of the Orion nebula were taken in blue, green and red between January 1994 and March 1995. Light emitted by oxygen is shown as blue, hydrogen emission is shown as green, and nitrogen emission as red light. The overall color balance is close to that which an observer living near the Orion nebula would see. The irregular borders produced by the HST images have been smoothed out by the addition of images from the European Southern Observatory in Chile obtained by Bo Reipurth and John Bally, these being about 2% of the area shown here and lying at the top left corner.
Credits: NASA, C.R. O'Dell and S.K. Wong (Rice University)
2522 2005 Keck Adaptive Optics Image of SN 2005gl in NGC 266
Credits: NASA, ESA, and A. Gal-Yam (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel), D. Leonard (San Diego State University), and D. Fox (Pennsylvania State University)
1435 Embryonic Galaxy Cluster TN J1338
Credits: NASA, ESA, G. Miley (Leiden Observatory), and R. Overzier (Leiden Observatory)
1193 Gaseous Streamers from Nebula N44C Flutter in Stellar Breeze
Resembling the hair in Botticelli's famous portrait of the birth of Venus, softly glowing filaments stream from a complex of hot young stars. This image of a nebula, known as N44C, comes from the archives of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST). It was taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in 1996 and is being presented by the Hubble Heritage Project. N44C is the designation for a region of glowing hydrogen gas surrounding an association of young stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby, small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the Southern Hemisphere. N44C is peculiar because the star mainly responsible for illuminating the nebula is unusually hot. The most massive stars, ranging from 10-50 times more massive than the Sun, have maximum temperatures of 54,000 to 90,000 degrees Fahrenheit (30,000 to 50,000 degrees Kelvin). The star illuminating N44C appears to be significantly hotter, with a temperature of about 135,000 degrees Fahrenheit (75,000 degrees Kelvin)! Ideas proposed to explain this unusually high temperature include the possibility of a neutron star or black hole that intermittently produces X-rays but is now "switched off." On the top right of this Hubble image is a network of nebulous filaments that inspired comparison to Botticelli. The filaments surround a Wolf-Rayet star, another kind of rare star characterized by an exceptionally vigorous "wind" of charged particles. The shock of the wind colliding with the surrounding gas causes the gas to glow. N44C is part of the larger N44 complex, which includes young, hot, massive stars, nebulae, and a "superbubble" blown out by multiple supernova explosions. Part of the superbubble is seen in red at the very bottom left of the HST image. The data were taken in November 1996 with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 by Donald Garnett (University of Arizona) and collaborators and stored in the Hubble archive. The image was composed by the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).
Credits: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: D. Garnett (University of Arizona)
2804 Compass and Scale Image of Hanny's Voorwerp
Credits: Illustration: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI); Science: NASA, ESA, W. Keel (University of Alabama), and the Galaxy Zoo Team
2724 Massive Star is Ejected from a Young Star Cluster
Credits: Illustration: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI); Science: NASA, ESA, C. Evans (Royal Observatory Edinburgh), N. Walborn (STScI), and ESO
3734 Scale Image for Mars
Credits: NASA, ESA, and L. Frattare (STScI)
41 Hubble's First Observation Of Jupiter
On March 11, 1991, the Wide Field/Planetary Camera on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope observed Jupiter for the first time. This "true color" picture of the southeast quadrant of the planet shows a striking oval-shaped dark ring on the left and the Great Red Spot just rotating out of view on the right aide. These features are thought to be very large hurricane-like structures where warmer gases carry ammonia ice crystals from deep in the Jovian atmosphere up above the top of the normal cloud layers that shroud Jupiter. Jovian clouds are thought to be colored by small amounts of sulfur, phosphorus and carbon compounds in the ice crystals. This picture has about the same resolution (0.15 arcseconds) as voyager pictures taken 5 days before encounter in 1979. This will allow a continuation of the study of Jovian wind velocities begun by voyager and allow expansion of this program into the ultraviolet and infrared where clouds form at different heights in the atmosphere. The blue and blue-green bands to the right of the edge of Jupiter are artifacts due to the rotation of the planet during the six minutes between the separate blue, green and red exposures used to make the color picture. The Wide Field/Planetary Camera was designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, of the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, California.
Credits: Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI
2763 Illustration of Future Positions of Stars in Omega Centauri
Credits: Illustration: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI); Science: NASA, ESA, and J. Anderson and R. van der Marel (STScI)
2489 NGC 3021 NICMOS/ACS Detail 3
Credits: NASA, ESA, and A. Riess (STScI/JHU)
2886 The Necklace Nebula
A giant cosmic necklace glows brightly in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image. The object, aptly named the Necklace Nebula, is a recently discovered planetary nebula, the glowing remains of an ordinary, Sun-like star. The nebula consists of a bright ring, measuring 12 trillion miles across, dotted with dense, bright knots of gas that resemble diamonds in a necklace. The knots glow brightly due to absorption of ultraviolet light from the central stars. A pair of stars orbiting very close together produced the nebula, also called PN G054.2-03.4. About 10,000 years ago one of the aging stars ballooned to the point where it enveloped its companion star. This caused the larger star to spin so fast that much of its gaseous envelope expanded into space. Due to centrifugal force, most of the gas escaped along the star's equator, producing a dense ring. The embedded bright knots are the densest gas clumps in the ring. The stars are furiously whirling around each other, completing an orbit in a little more than a day. (For comparison, Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, takes 88 days to orbit the Sun.) The Necklace Nebula is located 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagitta (the Arrow). In this composite image, taken on July 2, 2011, Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 captured the glow of hydrogen (blue), oxygen (green), and nitrogen (red).
Credits: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
3248 Incoming Comet ISON Appears Intact to NASA's Hubble
A new image of the sunward plunging Comet ISON suggests that the comet is intact despite some predictions that the fragile icy nucleus might disintegrate as the Sun warms it. The comet will pass closest to the Sun on November 28. In this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image taken on October 9, the comet's solid nucleus is unresolved because it is so small. If the nucleus broke apart then Hubble would have likely seen evidence for multiple fragments. Moreover, the coma or head surrounding the comet's nucleus is symmetric and smooth. This would probably not be the case if clusters of smaller fragments were flying along. A polar jet of dust first seen in Hubble images taken in April is no longer visible and may have turned off. This color composite image was assembled using two filters. The comet's coma appears cyan, a greenish-blue color due to gas, while the tail is reddish due to dust streaming off the nucleus. The tail forms as dust particles are pushed away from the nucleus by the pressure of sunlight. The comet was inside Mars' orbit and 177 million miles from Earth when photographed. Comet ISON is predicted to make its closest approach to Earth on December 26, at a distance of 39.9 million miles.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
2472 Planetary Nebula NGC 6072
NGC 6072 is called a planetary nebula, but it has nothing to do with planets. The nebula is really all that remains after the death of a star. When medium-sized stars run out of fuel, they shed their outer layers into space – something like blowing a smoke bubble amongst the stars. At the center rests the dying ember of the core of the star. Planetary nebulae can exhibit amazing and intricate structures.
Credits: Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO
1750 M31's Intriguing Nucleus
Hubble telescope observations have yielded insights into the Andromeda Galaxy's (M31's) complex nucleus. New images from Hubble uncovered a disk of young, hot, blue stars swirling around a supermassive black hole. The disk is nested inside an elliptical ring of older, cooler, red stars, seen in previous Hubble observations. The inset images show M31's bright core and a view of the entire galaxy.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
1481 Ring Around Supernova 1987A (SN1987A) - August 12, 2003
Credits: NASA, P. Challis, R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and B. Sugerman (STScI)
1147 August 2001 – 1998 WW31
1954 DSS 1 Degree Color Composite with Outline of SWEEPS ACS Field
Credits: NASA, Digitized Sky Survey (STScI)
805 HST 16302+8230
HST 16302+8230 could be an "Einstein ring" and the most intriguing lens candidate. It has been nicknamed the "the London Underground" since it resembles that logo.
Credits: Credit: Kavan Ratnatunga (Carnegie Mellon Univ.) and NASA
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