NASA news: Hubble Space Telescope video captures stars being born in Tarantula Nebula
NASA’s iconic eye in the sky the Hubble Space Telescope has captured yet another incredible image, this time depicting a bright pink cloud of gas and dust where giant stars are born. The cosmic cloud sits on the outskirts of the star-forming Tarantula Nebula.
(This is a) perfect laboratory to study the origin of massive stars
This cluster is in the neighbouring Large Magellanic Cloud Galaxy – 160,000 light-years distant from Earth.
US-based space agency NASA describes this as a scene of stellar creation.
The cloud is surrounded by many massive nascent stars, dubbed a “perfect laboratory to study the origin of massive stars”.
The cloud officially called LHA 120-N 150 contains dozens of isolated young giant stars that formed alone rather than as part of a cluster, NASA confirmed.
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The Tarantula Nebula is the largest known stellar nursery in the local Universe.
This cloud of dust captured by Hubble is a sub-region of the Tarantula Nebula.
The intriguing area is in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
This orbits the Milky Way galaxy and has had one or more relatively close encounters in the past, possibly with the Small Magellanic Cloud.
These interactions have caused an episode of energetic star formation in our tiny neighbour, and a part of this is visible as the Tarantula Nebula.
Also known as 30 Doradus or NGC 2070, the Tarantula Nebula owes its name to the arrangement of bright patches somewhat resembling the legs of an arachnid.
NASA astronomers estimate the nebula measures nearly 1,000 light-years across.
Space experts believe the beautiful the pink dust cloud captured by Hubble to be the best laboratories in which to study the formation of stars, in particular massive stars.
This Tarantula Nebula has an exceptionally high concentration of massive stars.
These are far larger than the Sun – often referred to as super star clusters.
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Astronomers have studied the pink dust cloud LHA 120-N 150 to learn more about the environment in which massive stars form.
This is because they can form in isolation in that cloud, away from the larger nebula.
Theoretical models of the formation of massive stars suggest they should form within clusters of stars.
Astronomical observations indicate up to ten percent of these also formed in isolation but are difficult for astronomers to study properly.
With its numerous substructures, the giant Tarantula Nebula is the perfect candidate to resolve this puzzle as in it massive stars can be found both as members of clusters and in isolation.
With the help of Hubble, astronomers have been trying to find out whether the isolated stars visible in the nebula truly formed alone or simply moved away from their stellar siblings.
However, such a study is not an easy task; young stars, before they are fully formed — especially massive ones — look very similar to dense clumps of dust.
NASA said LHA 120-N 150 contains several dozen of these “clumps of dust”.
They are a mix of unclassified sources — some likely young stellar objects and others probably mere dust clumps.
Only detailed analysis and observations will reveal the true nature of these stars.
This will help finally solve the unanswered question of the origin of massive stars
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