The Beauty of Nebulas

Today we take a look at some of the latest jaw dropping Nebula pictures from the Hubble and Spitzer Telescopes – enjoy!

 

spitzer-decade-01-130826NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was launched 10 years ago and has since peeled back an infrared veil on the Cosmos. The mission has worked in parallel with NASA’s other “Great Observatories” (Hubble and Chandra) to provide coverage of the emissions from galaxies, interstellar dust, comet tails and the solar system’s planets. But some of the most striking imagery to come from the orbiting telescope has been that of nebulae. Supernova remnants, star-forming regions and planetary nebulae are some of the most iconic objects to be spotted by Spitzer. So, to celebrate a decade in space, here are Discovery News’ favorite Spitzer nebulae. First up, the Helix Nebula — a so-called planetary nebula — located around 700 light-years from Earth. A planetary nebula is the remnants of the death throes of a red giant star — all that remains is a white dwarf star in the core, clouded by cometary dust.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/K. SU (UNIV. OF ARIZONA)

spitzer-decade-02-130826Spitzer will often work in tandem with other space telescopes to image a broad spectrum of light from celestial objects. Here, the supernova remnant RCW 86 is imaged by NASA’s Spitzer, WISE and Chandra, and ESA’s XMM-Newton.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/B. WILLIAMS (NCSU)

spitzer-decade-03-130826Staring deep into the Messier 78 star-forming nebula, Spitzer sees the infrared glow of baby stars blasting cavities into the cool nebulous gas and dust.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH

spitzer-decade-04-130826
The green-glowing infrared ring of the nebula RCW 120 is caused by tiny dust grains called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — the bubble is being shaped by the powerful stellar winds emanating from the central massive O-type star.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/GLIMPSE-MIPSGAL TEAMS

spitzer-decade-05-130826Spitzer stares deep into the Orion nebula, imaging the infrared light generated by a star factory.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/J. STAUFFER (SSC/CALTECH)

spitzer-decade-06-130826In the year 1054 A.D. a star exploded as a supernova. Today, Spitzer was helped by NASA’s other “Great Observatories” (Hubble and Chandra) to image the nebula that remains. The Crab Nebula is the result; a vast cloud of gas and dust with a spinning pulsar in the center.

X-RAY: NASA/CXC/J.HESTER (ASU); OPTICAL: NASA/ESA/J.HESTER & A.LOLL (ASU); INFRARED: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/R.GEHRZ (UNIV. MINN.)

spitzer-decade-07-130826The Tycho supernova remnant as imaged by Spitzer (in infrared wavelengths) and Chandra (X-rays). The supernova’s powerful shockwave is visible as the outer blue shell, emitting X-rays.

MPIA/NASA

spitzer-decade-08-130826Over 2,200 baby stars can be seen inside the bustling star-forming region RCW 49.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/E. CHURCHWELL (UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN – MADISON)

spitzer-decade-09-130826The “Wing” of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) glitters with stars and warm clouds of dust and gas. By combining observations by Spitzer, Chandra and Hubble, the complex nature of this nebulous region can be realized.

X-RAY: NASA/CXC/UNIV.POTSDAM/L.OSKINOVA ET AL; OPTICAL: NASA/STSCI; INFRARED: NASA/JPL-CALTECH

spitzer-decade-10-130826The giant star Zeta Ophiuchi is blasting powerful stellar winds into space, creating an impressive shock wave in the interstellar medium.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH

hubble-nebulae-02-130904
In a discovery announced on Sept. 4, 2013, a population of planetary nebulae near the galactic core appear to be, weirdly, preferentially aligned to the Milky Way’s galactic plain. The nebulae, known as “bipolar” (or “butterfly”) planetary nebulae are completely non-interacting and of various ages, suggesting some external force is shaping their orientation. It’s thought that a powerful magnetic field may be the culprit.

The researchers used observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and ESO’s New Technology Telescope, so here are a small selection of some stunning examples of bipolar planetary nebulae as seen through the eye of Hubble. Shown here is the stunning NGC 6302 — an intricate example of a bipolar planetary nebula’s butterfly wings.

NASA, ESA AND THE HUBBLE SM4 ERO TEAM

 

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