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Stormy Cloud Of Star Birth Glows In New Spitzer Image

Date:
January 23, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
A dusty stellar nursery shines brightly in a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility. Spitzer's heat-sensing "infrared eyes" have pierced the veiled core of the Tarantula Nebula to provide an unprecedented peek at massive newborn stars.

NASA's new Spitzer Space Telescope, formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, has captured in stunning detail the spidery filaments and newborn stars of the Tarantula Nebula, a rich star-forming region also known as 30 Doradus. This cloud of glowing dust and gas is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the nearest galaxy to our own Milky Way, and is visible primarily from the Southern Hemisphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University and University of Leiden)

A dusty stellar nursery shines brightly in a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility. Spitzer's heat-sensing "infrared eyes" have pierced the veiled core of the Tarantula Nebula to provide an unprecedented peek at massive newborn stars.

The new image is available online at http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu and http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA05062.

"We can now see the details of what's going on inside this active star-forming region," said Dr. Bernhard Brandl, principal investigator for the latest observations and an astronomer at both Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and the University of Leiden, the Netherlands.

Launched on August 25, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, the Spitzer Space Telescope is the fourth of NASA's Great Observatories, a program that also includes Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. Spitzer's state-of-the-art infrared detectors can sense the infrared radiation, or heat, from the farthest, coldest and dustiest objects in the universe.

One such dusty object is the Tarantula Nebula. Located in the southern constellation of Dorado, in a nearby galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud, this glowing cloud of gas and dust is one of the most dynamic star-forming regions in our local group of galaxies. It harbors some of the most massive stars in the universe, up to 100 times more massive than our own Sun, and is the only nebula outside our galaxy visible to the naked eye.

While other telescopes have highlighted the nebula's spidery filaments and its star-studded core, none was capable of fully penetrating its dust-enshrouded pockets of younger stars.

The new Spitzer image shows, for the first time, a more complete picture of this huge stellar nursery, including previously hidden stars. The image also captures in stunning detail a hollow cavity around the stars, where intense radiation has blown away cosmic dust.

"You can see a hole in the cloud as if a giant hair dryer blew away all the gas and dust," said Brandl.

By studying this portrait of a family of stars, astronomers can piece together how stars in general, including those like our Sun, form.

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. JPL is a division of Caltech.

Additional information about the Spitzer Space Telescope is available at http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Stormy Cloud Of Star Birth Glows In New Spitzer Image." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040123002444.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, January 23). Stormy Cloud Of Star Birth Glows In New Spitzer Image. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040123002444.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Stormy Cloud Of Star Birth Glows In New Spitzer Image." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040123002444.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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