Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Single Hubble Picture Captures Key Phases In The Stellar Life Cycle

Date:
June 2, 1999
Source:
University Of Washington
Summary:
Like a collage of photographs showing a human being from infancy to old age, a striking new picture unveiled today by a University of Washington astronomer shows various stages in the life cycle of stars, all occurring at one time.

CHICAGO - Like a collage of photographs showing a human being from infancy to old age, a striking new picture unveiled today by a University of Washington astronomer shows various stages in the life cycle of stars, all occurring at one time.

The photograph clearly shows structures that will develop into stars, a starburst cluster featuring young massive stars, and a blue supergiant in its last stage before the death throes of becoming a supernova. This single view, believed to be the first of its kind, illustrates the entire stellar life cycle, said Eva Grebel, a Hubble postdoctoral fellow in the UW astronomy department.

A huge gas cloud that includes two giant gaseous pillars is the most dominant part of the image. However, the starburst cluster stands out because winds from its massive stars cleared away the surrounding gas, giving scientists a much better view of what is occurring inside.

"We even see stars that are currently being formed in the surroundings of this very massive cluster," Grebel said.

She and her colleagues, Wolfgang Brandner of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and You-Hua Chu of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presented the image at the centennial meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The photograph of the giant galactic nebula NGC 3603 was taken March 5 using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on the Hubble Space Telescope. The nebula is about 20,000 light years from Earth (a light year is about 5.88 trillion miles) and about 26,000 light years from the center of the galaxy, the same distance as our solar system.

Bok globules, which appear as small dark masses in the upper right corner of the photo, could contain one or several forming stars. When such globules evolve and are near an ionizing source, such as the giant cluster, they can begin to look like proplyds.

The term proplyd comes from protoplanetary disk, which is the material around a forming star that eventually could form a planetary system. It is believed proplyds consist of a central disk of neutral gas. In the photo, two proplyds appear as bright yellow objects slightly separated from the gas cloud in the lower center of the image.

"By studying these in greater detail, we hope to learn a lot more about the early life of a star," Grebel said.

Brandner said the proplyds are 560 billion to 1.7 trillion miles in size. But he said it is doubtful these developing stars ever will harbor planets because simulations indicate that within a few tens of thousands of years the disk of protoplanetary material will be completely ionized and dispersed because of its closeness to the cluster.

The central starburst cluster has at least two dozen massive stars, including O3 stars that, at about 120 times the mass of our sun, are the most-massive stars known. The massive stars stand out because of their brightness, but that makes it much less certain how many low-mass stars are in the cluster because they are hard to see. It is estimated there are tens of thousands of them.

Just to the left and slightly above the cluster is the blue supergiant known as Sher 25. The star is in its last stages before going supernova, though it could be thousands of years before that happens, Grebel said. A visible ring around Sher 25 has a diameter of a little more than one light year.

Also visible in front of the gas cloud are two giant pillars, formed as gas is beginning to be blown away by powerful winds from massive stars and from supernova explosions. Eventually the pillars are expected to dissolve, along with the rest of the gas cloud, Grebel said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Washington. "Single Hubble Picture Captures Key Phases In The Stellar Life Cycle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990602073153.htm>.
University Of Washington. (1999, June 2). Single Hubble Picture Captures Key Phases In The Stellar Life Cycle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990602073153.htm
University Of Washington. "Single Hubble Picture Captures Key Phases In The Stellar Life Cycle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990602073153.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) NASA reported the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, on August 24th. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) The space shuttle Discovery launched for the very first time 30 years ago. Here's a look back at its legacy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) Researchers at Fermilab are using a device called "The Holometer" to test whether our universe is actually a 2-D hologram that just seems 3-D. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Newsy (Aug. 23, 2014) The private spaceflight company says it is preparing a thorough investigation into Friday's mishap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins