Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spitzer Captures Fruits Of Massive Stars' Labors

Date:
June 1, 2005
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
The saga of how a few monstrous stars spawned a diverse community of additional stars is told in a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The striking picture reveals an eclectic mix of embryonic stars living in the tattered neighborhood of one of the most famous massive stars in our Milky Way galaxy, Eta Carinae.

This false-color image taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the "South Pillar" region of the star-forming region called the Carina Nebula.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The saga of how a few monstrous stars spawned a diverse community of additional stars is told in a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

The striking picture reveals an eclectic mix of embryonic stars living in the tattered neighborhood of one of the most famous massive stars in our Milky Way galaxy, Eta Carinae. Astronomers say that radiation and winds from Eta Carinae and its massive siblings ripped apart the surrounding cloud of gas and dust, shocking the new stars into being.

"We knew that stars were forming in this region before, but Spitzer has shown us that the whole environment is swarming with embryonic stars of an unprecedented multitude of different masses and ages," said Dr. Robert Gehrz, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, a member of the team that made the Spitzer observations.

The results were presented yesterday at the 206th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Minneapolis by Dr. Nathan Smith, lead investigator of the Spitzer findings, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Previous visible-light images of this region, called the Carina Nebula, show cloudy finger-like pillars of dust, all pointing toward Eta Carinae at the center. Spitzer's infrared eyes cut through much of this dust to expose incubating stars embedded inside the pillars, as well as new star-studded pillars never before seen.

Eta Carinae, located 10,000 light-years from Earth, was once the second brightest star in the sky. It is so massive, more than 100 times the mass of our Sun, it can barely hold itself together. Over the years, it has brightened and faded as material has shot away from its surface. Some astronomers think Eta Carinae might die in a supernova blast within our lifetime.

Eta Carinae's home, the Carina Nebula, is also quite big, stretching across 200 light-years of space. This colossal cloud of gas and dust not only gave birth to Eta Carinae, but also to a handful of slightly less massive sibling stars. When massive stars like these are born, they rapidly begin to shred to pieces the very cloud that nurtured them, forcing gas and dust to clump together and collapse into new stars. The process continues to spread outward, triggering successive generations of fewer and fewer stars. Our own Sun may have grown up in a similar environment.

The new Spitzer image offers astronomers a detailed "family tree" of the Carina Nebula. At the top of the hierarchy are the grandparents, Eta Carinae and its siblings, and below them are the generations of progeny of different sizes and ages.

"Now we have a controlled experiment for understanding how one giant gas and dust cloud can produce such a wide variety of stars," said Gehrz.

The false colors in the Spitzer picture correspond to different infrared wavelengths. Red represents dust features and green shows hot gas. Embryonic stars are yellow or white and foreground stars are blue. Eta Carinae itself lies just off the top of image. It is too bright for infrared telescopes to observe.

The new image is available online at: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2005-12/ssc2005-12a.shtml.

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. JPL is a division of Caltech. Spitzer's infrared array camera, which took the picture of the Carina Nebula, was built by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; its development was led by Dr. Giovanni Fazio, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass.

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


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. "Spitzer Captures Fruits Of Massive Stars' Labors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050601072239.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2005, June 1). Spitzer Captures Fruits Of Massive Stars' Labors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050601072239.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Spitzer Captures Fruits Of Massive Stars' Labors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050601072239.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 2, 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