April 22, 2024

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Daily Telescope: Giant new stars spark a nebula

Daily Telescope: Giant new stars spark a nebula
Zoom in / Here is the star forming region in NGC 604.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Welcome to Daily Telescope. There is too little darkness in this world and not enough light, too little pseudoscience and not enough science. We'll let the other posts provide your daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we'll take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe full of stars and wonders.

Good morning. It's March 12, and today's image is from the James Webb Space Telescope.

Astronomers have long been fascinated by the nebula NGC 604 located in the relatively nearby Triangle Galaxy. This is because this nebula contains about 200 of the hottest and largest types of stars, most of which are in the early stages of their lives. Some of these stars are 100 times or more massive than the Sun. Astronomers know of no other region in the universe as densely packed with stars as this nebula.

In this image, taken by the near-infrared camera on the Webb Telescope, there are bright red and orange colors. Here is the interpretation from astronomers for these colors:

The most noticeable features are tendrils and emission clumps that appear bright red, extending from regions that resemble cut-out areas, or large bubbles in the nebula. Stellar winds from brighter, hotter young stars have sculpted these cavities, while ultraviolet radiation ionizes the surrounding gas. This ionized hydrogen appears as a ghostly blue-white glow. The bright orange lines in the near-infrared Webb image indicate the presence of carbon molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The nebula is only about 3.5 million years old.

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source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

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