Friday, December 16, 2011

Hubble images celestial snow angel in 3D

This serene-looking cloud of gas and dust, whose symmetrical lobes give it the look of a celestial snow angel, is actually the home of a violent young star rebelling against its parent nebula.
The star-forming region, called S106, lies a few thousand light years away and houses a young star about 15 times the mass of the sun. The star is blowing off hot material at high speeds, which sculpts the surrounding gas clouds into their hourglass shape, heats them to about 10,000 degrees Celsius and ionises them so that they glow. The star will soon settle down and enter the main sequence, considered to be the adult stage of a star's life.
The visualisation presents a 3D view of the region by combining data from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and the Subaru Infrared Telescope. The added depth illustrates how astronomical objects that look flat from Earth are actually spread out across light years of space.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to zoom into a nebula or check out a clip of astronauts repairing Hubble.

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