Star Factory Shows Off Three Kinds of Nebulae
Captured by the European Southern Observatory’s 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, this image shows off the three distinct types of nebulae found in the Trifid. The bluish patch in the upper left is known as a reflection nebula because it scatters light from nearby stars. The largest of these stars, which were all born in the Trifid, can be seen shining in the center of the reflection nebula. It radiates hot blue light in the visible spectrum and gives the cloud a bluish tinge.
The bright pink circle in the lower half of the photo is an emission nebula, which glows red because it contains a core of hydrogen gas heated by hundreds of super-hot new stars. At the bottom of the emission nebula, a finger-shaped projection of gas points up at the Trifid’s central star. Known as an evaporating gaseous globule, or EGG, this dense blob of gas is a birthplace for new stars.
The Trifid’s third kind of nebula can be seen in the dark stripes that criss-cross the rest of the image. Called dark nebulae because of their light-obscuring properties, these clouds of gas and dust contain the remnants of previous star births. As higher pressure and temperatures build up inside the streaks of gas, nuclear fusion will lead to the formation of yet more stars.
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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken this incredible picture of Messier 9, a globular star cluster located near the center of our galaxy. The cluster, located some 25,000 light years away, is too faint to be seen with the naked eye, but Hubble has captured more than 250,000 individual stars there. Globular clusters are believed to have emerged when the galaxy was quite young, and the stars that make up Messier 9 are calculated to be around twice as old as our sun.