Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hubble Views An Expanding Bubble In Space

Date:
January 17, 2000
Source:
Space Telescope Science Institute
Summary:
Astronomers, using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on board NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in October and November 1997 and April 1999, imaged the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) with unprecedented clarity. For the first time, they are able to understand the geometry and dynamics of this very complicated system.

Astronomers, using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on board NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in October and November 1997 and April 1999, imaged the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) with unprecedented clarity. For the first time, they are able to understand the geometry and dynamics of this very complicated system. Earlier pictures taken of the nebula with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 1 left many issues unanswered, as the data could not be fully calibrated for scientific use. In addition, those data never imaged the enigmatic inner structure presented here.

The remarkably spherical "Bubble" marks the boundary between an intense wind of particles from the star and the more quiescent interior of the nebula. The central star of the nebula is 40 times more massive than the Sun and is responsible for a stellar wind moving at 2,000 kilometers per second (4 million miles per hour or 7 million kilometers per hour) which propels particles off the surface of the star. The bubble surface actually marks the leading edge of this wind's gust front, which is slowing as it plows into the denser surrounding material. The surface of the bubble is not uniform because as the shell expands outward it encounters regions of the cold gas, which are of different density and therefore arrest the expansion by differing amounts, resulting in the rippled appearance. The wind encounters this gradient of background material, which places the central star off center in the bubble. There is more material to the northeast of the nebula than to the southwest, so that the wind progresses less in that direction, offsetting the central star from the geometric center of the bubble. At a distance of 7,100 light-years from Earth, the Bubble Nebula is located in the constellation Cassiopeia and has a diameter of 6 light-years.

To the right of the central star is a ridge of much denser gas. The lower left portion of this ridge is closest to the star and so is brightest. It is experiencing the most intense ultraviolet radiation as well as the strong wind and is therefore being photoevaporated the fastest. The ridge forms a V-shape in the image, with two segments that are aligned at the brightest edge. The upper of these two segments is viewed quite obliquely as it trails off into the back of the nebula. The lower segment comes both toward the observer and off to the side. This lower ridge appears to lie within the sphere described by the bubble but is not actually "inside" the shocked region of gas. Instead it is being pushed up against the bubble like a hand being pushed against the outside of a party balloon. While the edge of the hand appears to be inside the balloon, it is not. As the bubble moves up but not through the ridge, bright blue arcs form where the supersonic wind strikes the ridge to form an apparent series of nested shock fronts.

The region between the star and ridge reveals several loops and arcs which have never been seen before. The high resolution capabilities of Hubble make it possible to examine these features in detail in a way that is not possible from the ground. The origin of this bubble-within-a-bubble" is unknown at this time. It may be due to a collision of two distinct winds. The stellar wind may be colliding with material streaming off the ridge as it is photoevaporated by the star's radiation.

Located at the top of the picture are dense clumps or fingers of molecular gas which have not yet encountered the expanding shell. These structures are similar in form to the columns in the Eagle Nebula, except that they are not being eroded as energetically as they are in that nebula. As in the Eagle, the clumps are seen to emit light because they are being illuminated by the strong ultraviolet radiation from the central star, which travels much faster than the shell and has reached the outer knots long before the expanding rim will.

Credits: NASA, Donald Walter (South Carolina State Univ.), Paul Scowen and Brian Moore (Arizona State Univ.)

Research Team: Donald Walter (South Carolina State University), Paul Scowen, Jeff Hester, Brian Moore (Arizona State University), Reggie Dufour, Patrick Hartigan and Brent Buckalew (Rice University). Funding: Space Telescope Science Inst., NASA MUSPIN and NASA URC.

EDITORS NOTE - For additional information, please contact Donald Walter, Dept. of Physical Sciences South Carolina State Univ., P.O. Box 7296 300 College St., Orangeburg, SC 29117, (phone) 803-533-3773, (fax) 803-536-8500, (e-mail) dkw@physics.scsu.edu.

Image files are available on the Internet at:http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/2000/04 or via links inhttp://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/latest.html andhttp://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pictures.html

Higher resolution digital versions (300 dpi JPEG and TIFF) are available at:http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/2000/04/pr-photos.html

STScI press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to public-request@stsci.edu. In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type the word "subscribe" (don't use quotes). The system will respond with a confirmation of the subscription, and users will receive new press releases as they are issued. To unsubscribe, send mail to public-request@stsci.edu. Leave the subject line blank, and type "unsubscribe" (don't use quotes) in the body of the message.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Space Telescope Science Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Space Telescope Science Institute. "Hubble Views An Expanding Bubble In Space." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000117074112.htm>.
Space Telescope Science Institute. (2000, January 17). Hubble Views An Expanding Bubble In Space. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000117074112.htm
Space Telescope Science Institute. "Hubble Views An Expanding Bubble In Space." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000117074112.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? 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