Home

 


The following details for each photo have been written by astronomers and scientists who may not hold to a Christian world view.

Therefore, the scientific description of the images may contain statements or ideas that are inconsistent with what Christians hold to be true regarding these images from a creationist perspective.


Photo #1
Columns of cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust in M16, the Eagle Nebula
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC95-44a
PILLARS OF CREATION IN A STAR-FORMING REGION
(Gas Pillars in M16 - Eagle Nebula)


Undersea corral?  Enchanted castles?  Space serpents?  These eerie, dark pillar-like structures are actually columns of cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust that are also incubators for new stars.  The pillars protrude from the interior wall of a dark molecular cloud like stalagmites from the floor of a cavern.  They are part of the "Eagle Nebula" (also called M16 -- the 16th object in Charles Messier's 18th century catalog of "fuzzy" objects that aren't comets), a nearby star-forming region 7,000 light-years away in the constellation Serpens.

The pillars are in some ways akin to buttes in the desert, where basalt and other dense rock have protected a region from erosion, while the surrounding landscape has been worn away over millennia.  In this celestial case, it is especially dense clouds of molecular hydrogen gas (two atoms of hydrogen in each molecule) and dust that have survived longer than their surroundings in the face of a flood of ultraviolet light from hot, massive newborn stars (off the top edge of the picture).  This process is called "photoevaporation.  "This ultraviolet light is also responsible for illuminating the convoluted surfaces of the columns and the ghostly streamers of gas boiling away from their surfaces, producing the dramatic visual effects that highlight the three-dimensional nature of the clouds. The tallest pillar (left) is about a light-year long from base to tip.
 
As the pillars themselves are slowly eroded away by the ultraviolet light, small globules of even denser gas buried within the pillars are uncovered.  These globules have been dubbed "EGGs."  EGGs is an acronym for "Evaporating Gaseous Globules," but it is also a word that describes what these objects are.  Forming inside at least some of the EGGs are embryonic stars -- stars that abruptly stop growing when the EGGs are uncovered and they are separated from the larger reservoir of gas from which they were drawing mass.  Eventually, the stars themselves emerge from the EGGs as the EGGs themselves succumb to photoevaporation.

The picture was taken on April 1, 1995 with the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.  The color image is constructed from three separate images taken in the light of emission from different types of atoms.  Red shows emission from singly-ionized sulfur atoms. Green shows emission from hydrogen.  Blue shows light emitted by doubly- ionized oxygen atoms.

Credit: Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen (Arizona State University), and NASA


Photo #2
Closer view of the leftmost "pillar" of interstellar hydrogen gas and dust in M16, the Eagle Nebula.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC95-44b
STELLAR "EGGS" EMERGE FROM MOLECULAR CLOUD
(Star-Birth Clouds in M16)


This eerie, dark structure, resembling an imaginary sea serpent's head, is a column of cool molecular hydrogen gas (two atoms of hydrogen in
each molecule) and dust that is an incubator for new stars.  The stars are embedded inside finger-like protrusions extending from the top of
the nebula.  Each "fingertip" is somewhat larger than our own solar system.

The pillar is slowly eroding away by the ultraviolet light from nearby hot stars, a process called "photoevaporation".  As it does, small
globules of especially dense gas buried within the cloud is uncovered. These globules have been dubbed "EGGs" -- an acronym for "Evaporating
Gaseous Globules".  The shadows of the EGGs protect gas behind them, resulting in the finger-like structures at the top of the cloud.

Forming inside at least some of the EGGs are embryonic stars -- stars that abruptly stop growing when the EGGs are uncovered and they are
separated from the larger reservoir of gas from which they were drawing mass.  Eventually the stars emerge, as the EGGs themselves succumb to
photoevaporation.

The stellar EGGS are found, appropriately enough, in the "Eagle Nebula" (also called M16 -- the 16th object in Charles Messier's 18th century
catalog of "fuzzy" permanent objects in the sky), a nearby star-forming region 7,000 light-years away in the constellation Serpens.

The picture was taken on April 1, 1995 with the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.  The color image is constructed from
three separate images taken in the light of emission from different types of atoms.  Red shows emission from singly-ionized sulfur atoms.
Green shows emission from hydrogen.  Blue shows light emitted by doubly- ionized oxygen atoms.

Credit: Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen (Arizona State University), and NASA

Photo #3
Mosaic of 45 images taken between Jan. 1994 and March 1995 of M42, the Orion Nebula.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC95-45a
CRUCIBLE OF CREATION: PANORAMIC HUBBLE MOSAIC ZOOMS IN ON MAELSTROM OF STAR BIRTH


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.

Credit:  C.R. O'Dell (Rice University), and NASA

Photo #4
Collision of two gasses ("cometary knots") in the Helix Nebula in the constellation Aquarius.
Photo No.: STScI-PRC96-07 and JPL-P-46535
HUBBLE FINDS AN HOURGLASS NEBULA AROUND A DYING STAR


This is an image of MyCn18, a young planetary nebula located about 8,000 light-years away, taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera
2 (WFPC2) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST).  This Hubble image reveals the true shape of MyCn18 to be an hourglass with an
intricate pattern of "etchings" in its walls.  This picture has been composed from three separate images taken in the light of ionized
nitrogen (represented by red), hydrogen (green), and doubly-ionized oxygen (blue).  The results are of great interest because they shed new
light on the poorly understood ejection of stellar matter which accompanies the slow death of Sun-like stars. In previous ground-based
images, MyCn18 appears to be a pair of large outer rings with a smaller central one, but the fine details cannot be seen.

According to one theory for the formation of planetary nebulae, the hourglass shape is produced by the expansion of a fast stellar wind
within a slowly expanding cloud which is more dense near its equator than near its poles.  What appears as a bright elliptical ring in the
center, and at first sight might be mistaken for an equatorially dense region, is seen on closer inspection to be a potato shaped structure
with a symmetry axis dramatically different from that of the larger hourglass.  The hot star which has been thought to eject and illuminate
the nebula, and therefore expected to lie at its center of symmetry, is clearly off center.  Hence MyCn18, as revealed by Hubble, does not
fulfill some crucial theoretical expectations.
 
Hubble has also revealed other features in MyCn18 which are completely new and unexpected. For example, there is a pair of intersecting
elliptical rings in the central region which appear to be the rims of a smaller hourglass. There are the intricate patterns of the etchings on
the hourglass walls. The arc-like etchings could be the remnants of discrete shells ejected from the star when it was younger (e.g. as seen
in the Egg Nebula), flow instabilities, or could result from the action of a narrow beam of matter impinging on the hourglass walls. An unseen
companion star and accompanying gravitational effects may well be necessary in order to explain the structure of MyCn18.

BACKGROUND: PLANETARY NEBULAE

When Sun-like stars get old, they become cooler and redder, increasing their sizes and energy output tremendously: they are called red
giants.  Most of the carbon (the basis of life) and particulate matter (crucial building blocks of solar systems like ours) in the universe is
manufactured and dispersed by red giant stars.  When the red giant star has ejected all of its outer layers, the ultraviolet radiation from the
exposed hot stellar core makes the surrounding cloud of matter created during the red giant phase glow: the object becomes a planetary
nebula.  A long-standing puzzle is how planetary nebulae acquire their complex shapes and symmetries, since red giants and the gas/dust clouds
surrounding them are mostly round.  Hubble's ability to see very fine structural details (usually blurred beyond recognition in ground-based
images) enables us to look for clues to this puzzle.

CREDITS: Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger (JPL), the WFPC2 science team, and NASA

Photo #5
Collision of two gasses ("cometary knots") in the Helix Nebula in the constellation Aquarius.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-13a 
HUBBLE CAPTURES COLLISION OF GASES NEAR DYING STAR


This colorful image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the collision of two gases near a dying star.  Astronomers have dubbed 
the tadpole-like objects in the upper right-hand corner "cometary knots" because their glowing heads and gossamer tails resemble 
comets.  Although astronomers have seen gaseous knots through ground-based telescopes, they have never seen so many in a single 
nebula.

Hubble captured thousands of these knots from a doomed star in the Helix nebula, the closest planetary nebula to Earth at 450 light-years 
away in the constellation Aquarius.  Each gaseous head is at least twice the size of our solar system; each tail stretches 100 billion 
miles, about 1,000 times the Earth's distance to the Sun.  The most visible gaseous fragments lie along the inner edge of the star's ring, 
trillions of miles from the star at its center.  The comet-like tails form a radial pattern around the star like the spokes on a wagon 
wheel. Astronomers have seen the spoke pattern using ground-based telescopes, but Hubble reveals for the first time the sources of
these objects.
 
Astronomers theorize that the gaseous knots are the results of a collision between gases. The doomed star spews the hot gas from 
its surface, which collides with the cooler gas that it had ejected 10,000 years before. The crash fragments the smooth cloud 
surrounding the star into smaller, denser finger-like droplets, like dripping paint.  Astronomers expect the gaseous knots, each several 
billion miles across, to eventually dissipate into the cold blackness of interstellar space.
 
This image was taken in August, 1994 with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.  The red light depicts nitrogen emission 
([NII] 6584A); green, hydrogen (H-alpha, 6563A); and blue, oxygen (5007A).

Credit:  Robert O'Dell, Kerry P. Handron (Rice University, Houston, Texas) and NASA 

Photo #6
Closer view of the "cometary knots" in the Helix Nebula
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-13b
COMETARY KNOTS AROUND A DYING STAR


These gigantic, tadpole-shaped objects are probably the result of a dying star's last gasps. Dubbed "cometary knots" because 
their glowing heads and gossamer tails resemble comets, the gaseous objects probably were formed during a star's final 
stages of life.

Hubble astronomer C. Robert O'Dell and graduate student Kerry P. Handron of Rice University in Houston, Texas discovered 
thousands of these knots with the Hubble Space Telescope while exploring the Helix nebula, the closest planetary nebula to Earth at 
450 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. Although ground-based telescopes have revealed such objects, astronomers 
have never seen so many of  them. The most visible knots all lie along the inner edge of the doomed star's ring, trillions of miles 
away from the star's nucleus. Although these gaseous knots appear small, they're actually huge. Each gaseous head is at 
least twice the size of our solar system; each tail stretches for 100 billion miles, about 1,000 times the distance between the
Earth and the Sun. Astronomers theorize that the doomed star spews hot, lower-density gas from its surface, which collides with 
cooler, higher-density gas that had been ejected 10,000 years before. The crash fragments the smooth cloud surrounding the star into 
smaller, denser finger-like droplets, like dripping paint.
 
This image was taken in August, 1994 with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.  The red light depicts nitrogen emission 
([NII] 6584A); green, hydrogen (H-alpha, 6563A); and blue, oxygen (5007A).
 
Credit:  Robert O'Dell, Kerry P. Handron (Rice University, Houston, Texas) and NASA

Photo #7
The Crab Nebula, M1, as imaged by HST and the Mount Palomar telescope.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-22a (color)
HUBBLE CAPTURES DYNAMICS OF CRAB NEBULA


A new sequence of Hubble Space Telescope images of the remnant of a tremendous stellar explosion is giving astronomers a remarkable look at the dynamic
relationship between the tiny Crab Pulsar and the vast nebula that it powers.

The colorful photo on the left shows a ground-based image of the entire Crab Nebula, the remnant of a supernova explosion witnessed over 900 years ago. 
The nebula, which is 10 light-years across, is located 7,000 light-years away in the constellation Taurus.  The green, yellow and red filaments concentrated
toward the edges of the nebula are remnants of the star that were ejected into space by the explosion.

At the center of the Crab Nebula lies the Crab Pulsar -- the collapsed core of the exploded star.  The Crab Pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star -- an
object only about six miles across, but containing more mass than our Sun.  As it rotates at a rate of 30 times per second the Crab Pulsar's powerful
magnetic field sweeps around, accelerating particles, and whipping them out into the nebula at speeds close to that of light.

The blue glow in the inner part of the nebula -- light emitted by energetic electrons as they spiral through the Crab's magnetic field -- is powered by
the Crab Pulsar.

The picture on the right shows a Hubble Space Telescope image of the inner parts of the Crab.  The pulsar itself is visible as the left of the pair of
stars near the center of the frame.  Surrounding the pulsar is a complex of sharp knots and wisp-like features.  This image is one of a sequence of Hubble
images taken over the course of several months.  This sequence shows that the inner part of the Crab Nebula is far more dynamic than previously understood. 
The Crab literally "changes it stripes" every few days as these wisps stream away from the pulsar at half the speed of light.

The Hubble Space Telescope photo was taken Nov. 5, 1995 by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 at a wavelength of around 550 nanometers, in the middle of
the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Credit: Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen (Arizona State University), and NASA

Photo #8
Star forming region in the nebula NCG 604, in the nearby sprial galaxy M33, as imaged by HST and the Mount Palomar telescope.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-27
GIANT STARBIRTH REGION IN NEIGHBORING GALAXY


This is a Hubble Space Telescope image (right) of a vast nebula called NGC 604, which lies in the neighboring spiral galaxy M33, 
located 2.7 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum.

This is a site where new stars are being born in a spiral arm of the galaxy.  Though such nebulae are common in galaxies, 
this one is particularly large, nearly 1,500 light-years across. The nebula is so vast it is easily seen in ground-based 
telescopic images (left). 

At the heart of NGC 604 are over 200 hot stars, much more massive than our Sun (15 to 60 solar masses). They heat the 
gaseous walls of the nebula making the gas fluoresce.  Their light also highlights the nebula's three-dimensional shape,
like a lantern in a cavern.  By studying the physical structure of a giant nebula, astronomers may determine how clusters of 
massive stars affect the evolution of the interstellar medium of the galaxy.  The nebula also yields clues to its star 
formation history and will improve understanding of the starburst process when a galaxy undergoes a "firestorm" of 
star formation. 

The image was taken on January 17, 1995 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.  Separate exposures were taken in 
different colors of light to study the physical properties of the hot gas (17,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 10,000 degrees Kelvin).

Credit:  Hui Yang (University of Illinois) and NASA.

Ground-based image courtesy of Palomar Observatory, Caltech and the STScI Digitized Sky Survey (AURA). 

Photo #9
Star forming region in the nebula NCG 2366, in the Magellanic galaxy NGC 2366, as imaged by HST and the Canada-France-Hawaii (CFHT) 3.6-meter telescope on Mauna Kea.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-31
BRIGHT STARBIRTH REGION IN A DIM GALAXY


[right] - Clusters of stars and a fishhook-shaped cloud of luminescent gases glow brilliantly in NGC 2363, a giant star-forming region in the Magellanic
galaxy NGC 2366.  Even though the nebula is 10 million light-years away, the Hubble Space Telescope resolves details comparable to such nebulae in our own
galaxy.  This region is as bright as the gigantic 30 Doradus nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our Milky Way.

The brightest star visible on this image (at the tip of the fishhook) is a rare class called an erupting Luminous Blue Variable (LBV).  This monstrous
star (30 to 60 times as massive as the Sun) is in a very unstable, eruptive phase of its life.  The Hubble images are the only ones in which the star can
be clearly isolated from the rest of the cluster.  Only four giant LBV eruptions have been recorded in history, the most famous being those of Eta
Carinae (1837-1860) and P Cygni (1600), within our own galaxy.

The LBV was discovered in Hubble pictures taken in January 1996, by comparing these images with ground-based photos.  An archival search of previous 
ground-based images showed the star grew 40 times brighter (21.5 to 17.8 magnitude) within three years -- now making it the brightest star in its galaxy.

The Hubble image, taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 (WFPC2),  also shows two dense clusters of massive stars, which are at two different phases
of their evolution.  Stellar "winds" and supernova blasts have blown the gas away from the oldest cluster (4-5 million years old) seen at the top of the
image.  This has created a cavity in the nebula.  In contrast, the brightest cluster (bottom center) is probably less than 2 million years old and still
embedded in remnants of gas and dust out of which it condensed.

Observations of galaxies like NGC 2366 will also help astronomers better understand why faint irregular galaxies can have such "firestorms" of
starbirth activity, and what processes set the limit to the size of a star-forming region in a given galactic environment.  One possibility is that
gas streaming around the galaxy forms a bar-like pattern where gas piles up at the ends of the bars, causing a giant cloud to form.

Credit: Laurent Drissen, Jean-Rene Roy and Carmelle Robert (Department de Physique and Observatoire du mont Megantic, Universite Laval) and NASA

[left] -  A black and white (visual) image of the irregular galaxy NGC 2366 obtained at the Canada-France-Hawaii (CFHT) 3.6-meter telescope on Mauna Kea
on February 7, 1996.    The white square shows the location of  Hubble's WFPC2 image. 

Credit:  Laurent Drissen and Yvan Dutil/ CFHT and NASA

Photo #10
One-half light-year long interstellar "twisters" in the Lagoon Nebula (M8) in the constellation Sagittarius.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-38a
GIANT "TWISTERS" AND STAR WISPS IN THE LAGOON NEBULA


This NASA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image reveals a pair of one-half light-year long interstellar "twisters" -- eerie funnels and twisted-rope
structures (upper left) -- in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation
Sagittarius.

The central hot star, O Herschel 36 (upper left), is the primary source of the ionizing radiation for the brightest region in the nebula, called the
Hourglass.  Other hot stars, also present in the nebula, are ionizing the extended optical nebulosity. The ionizing radiation induces photo-evaporation
of the surfaces of the clouds (seen as a blue "mist" at the right of the image), and drives away violent stellar winds tearing into the cool clouds.

Analogous to the spectacular phenomena of Earth tornadoes, the large difference in temperature between the hot surface and cold interior of the
clouds, combined with the pressure of starlight, may produce strong horizontal shear to twist the clouds into their tornado-like appearance.
Though the spiral shapes suggest the clouds are "twisting", future observations will be needed, perhaps with Hubble's next generation
instruments, with the spectroscopic capabilities of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) or the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object
Spectrometer (NICMOS), to actually measure velocities.

This Hubble picture reveals a variety of small scale structures in the interstellar medium, small dark clouds called Bok globules, bow shocks around
stars, ionized wisps, rings, knots and jets. 

The Lagoon Nebula and nebulae in other galaxies are sites where new stars are being born from dusty molecular clouds.  These regions are the "space
laboratories" for the astronomers to study how stars form and the interactions between the winds from stars and the gas nearby.  By studying the wealth of
data revealed by HST, astronomers will understand better how stars form in the nebulae.

These color-coded images are the combination of individual exposures taken in July and September, 1995 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2
(WFPC2) through three narrow-band filters (red light -- ionized sulphur atoms, blue light -- double ionized oxygen atoms, green light -- ionized hydrogen).

This work is based on public data retrieved from the HST Archive, cosmic-ray cleaned, calibrated and combined by Adeline Caulet (Space Telescope European
Coordinating Facility, European Space Agency).

Credit: A. Caulet (ST-ECF, ESA) and NASA


Photo #11
Closer view of the "twisters" in the Lagoon Nebula.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-38b
GIANT "TWISTERS" IN THE LAGOON NEBULA 


This NASA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image reveals a pair of one-half light-year long interstellar "twisters" -- eerie funnels and twisted-rope
structures -- in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

The central hot star, O Herschel 36 (lower right), is the primary source of the ionizing radiation for the brightest region in the nebula, called the
Hourglass.  Other hot stars, also present in the nebula, are ionizing the extended optical nebulosity.  The ionizing radiation induces photo-evaporation
of the surfaces of the clouds and drives away violent stellar winds tearing into the cool clouds.

Analogous to the spectacular phenomena of Earth tornadoes, the large difference in temperature between the hot surface and cold interior of the
clouds, combined with the pressure of starlight, may produce strong horizontal shear to twist the clouds into their tornado-like appearance.  Though the
spiral shapes suggest the clouds are "twisting", future observations will be needed, perhaps with Hubble's next generation instruments, with the 
spectroscopic capabilities of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) or the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), to 
actually measure velocities.

The Lagoon Nebula and nebulae in other galaxies are sites where new stars are being born from dusty molecular clouds.  These regions are the "space
laboratories" for the astronomers to study how stars form and the interactions between the winds from stars and the gas nearby.  By studying the wealth of
data revealed by HST, astronomers will understand better how stars form in the nebulae.

These color-coded images are the combination of individual exposures taken in July and September, 1995 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2
(WFPC2) through three narrow-band filters (red light -- ionized sulphur atoms, blue light -- double ionized oxygen atoms, green light -- ionized hydrogen).

This work is based on public data retrieved from the HST Archive, cosmic-ray cleaned, calibrated and combined by Adeline Caulet (Space Telescope European
Coordinating Facility, European Space Agency). 

Credit: A. Caulet (ST-ECF, ESA) and NASA

Photo #12
Image of the youngest known planetary nebula, the Stingray nebula (Hen-1357).
PHOTO NO.:  STScI-PRC98-15
HUBBLE CAPTURES UNVEILING OF PLANETARY NEBULA

This Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 image captures the infancy of the Stingray nebula (Hen-1357), the youngest known planetary nebula.

In this image, the bright central star is in the middle of the green ring of gas. Its companion star is diagonally above it at 10 o'clock. A
spur of gas (green) is forming a faint bridge to the companion star due to gravitational attraction.

The image also shows a ring of gas (green) surrounding the central star, with bubbles of gas to the lower left and upper right of the ring. The
wind of material propelled by radiation from the hot central star has created enough pressure to blow open holes in the ends of the bubbles,
allowing gas to escape.

The red curved lines represent bright gas that is heated by a "shock" caused when the central star's wind hits the walls of the bubbles.

The nebula is as large as 130 solar systems, but, at its distance of 18,000 light-years, it appears only as big as a dime viewed a mile away.
The Stingray is located in the direction of the southern constellation Ara (the Altar).

The colors shown are actual colors emitted by nitrogen (red), oxygen (green), and hydrogen (blue).  The filters used were F658N ([N II]),
F502N ([O III]), and F487N (H-beta). The observations were made in March 1996.

Credit:  Matt Bobrowsky, Orbital Sciences Corporation and NASA

Photo #13
Stellar formation in NGC 3603.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC99-20
HUBBLE SNAPSHOT CAPTURES LIFE CYCLE OF STARS

In this stunning picture of the giant galactic nebula NGC 3603, the crisp resolution of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures various
stages of the life cycle of stars in one single view.

To the upper right of center is the evolved blue supergiant called Sher 25. The star has a unique circumstellar ring of glowing gas that
is a galactic twin to the famous ring around the supernova 1987A. The grayish-bluish color of the ring and the bipolar outflows (blobs to the
upper right and lower left of the star) indicates the presence of processed (chemically enriched) material.

Near the center of the view is a so-called starburst cluster dominated by young, hot Wolf-Rayet stars and early O-type stars. A torrent of
ionizing radiation and fast stellar winds from these massive stars has blown a large cavity around the cluster.

The most spectacular evidence for the interaction of ionizing radiation with cold molecular-hydrogen cloud material are the giant gaseous
pillars to the right and lower left of the cluster. These pillars are sculptured by the same physical processes as the famous pillars Hubble
photographed in the M16 Eagle Nebula.

Dark clouds at the upper right are so-called Bok globules, which are probably in an earlier stage of star formation.

To the lower left of the cluster are two compact, tadpole-shaped emission nebulae. Similar structures were found by Hubble in Orion,
and have been interpreted as gas and dust evaporation from possibly protoplanetary disks (proplyds). The "proplyds" in NGC 3603 are
5 to 10 times larger in size and correspondingly also more massive.

This single view nicely illustrates the entire stellar life cycle of stars, starting with the Bok globules and giant gaseous pillars,
followed by circumstellar disks, and progressing to evolved massive stars in the young starburst cluster. The blue supergiant with its ring and
bipolar outflow marks the end of the life cycle.

The color difference between the supergiant's bipolar outflow and the diffuse interstellar medium in the giant nebula dramatically visualizes
the enrichment in heavy elements due to synthesis of heavier elements within stars.

This true-color picture was taken on March 5, 1999 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.

This picture is being presented at the 194th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Chicago.

Credit: Wolfgang Brandner (JPL/IPAC), Eva K. Grebel (Univ. Washington), You-Hua Chu (Univ. Illinois Urbana-Champaign), and NASA


Photo #14
Stellar formation in the Papillon Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC99-23
A BUTTERFLY-SHAPED "PAPILLON" NEBULA YIELDS SECRETS OF MASSIVE STAR BIRTH

A NASA Hubble Space Telescope view of a turbulent cauldron of starbirth, called N159, taking place 170,000 light-years away in our
satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Torrential stellar winds from hot newborn massive stars within the nebula sculpt ridges,
arcs, and filaments in the vast cloud, which is over 150 light-years across.

A rare type of compact ionized "blob" is resolved for the first time to be a butterfly-shaped or "Papillon" (French for "butterfly") nebula,
buried in the center of the maelstrom of glowing gases and dark dust. The unprecedented details of the structure of the Papillon, itself less
than 2 light-years in size (about 2 arcseconds in the sky), are seen in the inset.

A possible explanation of this bipolar shape is the outflow of gas from massive stars (over 10 times the mass of our sun) hidden in the
central absorption zone. Such stars are so hot that their radiation pressure halts the infall of gas and directs it away from the stars in two opposite directions.  Presumably, a dense equatorial disk formed by matter still trying to fall in onto the stars focuses the outstreaming matter into the bipolar directions.

This observation is part of a search for young massive stars in the LMC. Rare are the cases where we can see massive stars so early
after their birth.

The red in this true-color image is from the emission of hydrogen and the yellow from high excitation ionized oxygen. The picture was taken
on September 5, 1998 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.

The Hubble observations of the Papillon nebula were conducted by the European astronomers Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri (Paris Observatory,
France) and co-investigators Michael Rosa (Space Telescope-European Coordinating Facility, European Southern Observatory, Germany),
Vassilis Charmandaris (Paris Observatory), Lise Deharveng (Marseille Observatory, France), and Hans Zinnecker (Astrophysical Institute,
Potsdam, Germany).

Their work is submitted for publication in the European journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Credit: M. Heydari-Malayeri (Paris Observatory) and NASA/ESA


Photo #15
Close-up of the "Southern Crab Nebula" (He2-104).
PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC99-32
SYMBIOTIC STAR BLOWS BUBBLES INTO SPACE

A tempestuous relationship between an unlikely pair of stars may have created an oddly shaped, gaseous nebula that resembles an hourglass
nestled within an hourglass.

Images taken with Earth-based telescopes have shown the larger, hourglass-shaped nebula. But this picture, taken with NASA's Hubble
Space Telescope, reveals a small, bright nebula embedded in the center of the larger one (close-up of nebula in inset). Astronomers have dubbed
the entire nebula the "Southern Crab Nebula" (He2-104), because, from ground-based telescopes, it looks like the body and legs of a crab. The
nebula is several light-years long.

The possible creators of these shapes cannot be seen at all in this Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 image. It's a pair of aging stars buried in
the glow of the tiny, central nebula. One of them is a red giant, a bloated star that is exhausting its nuclear fuel and is shedding its
outer layers in a powerful stellar wind. Its companion is a hot, white dwarf, a stellar zombie of a burned-out star. This odd duo of a red
giant and a white dwarf is called a symbiotic system. The red giant is also a Mira Variable, a pulsating red giant, that is far away from its
partner. It could take as much as 100 years for the two to orbit around each other. 

Astronomers speculate that the interaction between these two stars may have sparked episodic outbursts of material, creating the gaseous
bubbles that form the nebula. They interact by playing a celestial game of  "catch": as the red giant throws off its bulk in a powerful stellar
wind, the white dwarf catches some of it. As a result, an accretion disk of material forms around the white dwarf and spirals onto its hot
surface. Gas continues to build up on the surface until it sparks an eruption, blowing material into space. 

This explosive event may have happened twice in the "Southern Crab." Astronomers speculate that the hourglass-shaped nebulae represent two
separate outbursts that occurred several thousand years apart. The jets of material in the lower left and upper right corners may have been
accelerated by the white dwarf's accretion disk and probably are part of the older eruption. 

The nebula, located in the Southern Hemisphere constellation of Centaurus, is a few thousand light-years from Earth.

This image, taken in May 1999, captures the glow of nitrogen gas energized by the white dwarf's intense radiation.

These results were presented at the "Asymmetrical Planetary Nebulae II: From Origins to Microstructures" conference, which took place at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, August 3-6, 1999.

Credits: Romano Corradi, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain; Mario Livio, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.;
Ulisse Munari, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova-Asiago, Italy; Hugo Schwarz, Nordic Optical Telescope, Canarias, Spain; and NASA


NOTE TO EDITORS: For additional information, please contact Dr. Mario Livio, STScI, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218,
(phone) 410-338-4439, (fax) 410-338-4767, (e-mail) mlivio@stsci.edu.

Go To:
Page 2 / Photo Details

Home