Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Snake On A Galactic Plane!

Date:
October 29, 2006
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Something scary appears to be slithering across the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in this new Halloween image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The snake-like object is actually the core of a thick, sooty cloud large enough to swallow dozens of solar systems. In fact, astronomers say its "belly" may be harboring beastly stars in the process of forming.

A snake-like object in the Milky Way galaxy.
Credit: Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Something scary appears to be slithering across the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in this new Halloween image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The snake-like object is actually the core of a thick, sooty cloud large enough to swallow dozens of solar systems. In fact, astronomers say its "belly" may be harboring beastly stars in the process of forming.

Related Articles


"The snake is an ideal place to hunt for massive forming stars as they have not had time to heat up and destroy the cloud they are born in," said Dr. Sean Carey, also known as "Dr. Scarey," of NASA's Spitzer Science Center. Dr. Scarey, who is leading the new research, was also principal investigator of a previous Halloween image from Spitzer, showing a 'great galactic ghoul'.

Spitzer was able to spot the sinuous cloud using its heat-seeking infrared vision. The object is hiding in the dusty plane of our Milky Way galaxy, invisible to optical telescopes. Because its heat, or infrared light, can sneak through the dust, it first showed up in infrared images from past missions. The cloud is so thick with dust that if you were to somehow transport yourself into the middle of it, you would see nothing but black, not even a star in the sky. Now, that's spooky!

Spitzer's new view of the snake provides the best look at what lurks inside. The yellow and orange spots located on and around it are massive stars just beginning to take shape. The bright red spot located on its belly is a monstrous stellar embryo, with about 20 to 50 times the mass of our sun.

Astronomers say these observations will ultimately help them better understand how massive stars form. By studying the clustering and range of masses of the stellar embryos, they hope to determine if the stars were born in the same way that our low-mass sun was formed -- out of a collapsing cloud of gas and dust -- or by another mechanism in which the environment plays a larger role.

The snake is located about 11,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.

This false-color image is a composite of infrared data taken by Spitzer's infrared array camera and multiband imaging photometer. Blue represents 3.6-micron light; green shows light of 8 microns; and red is 24-micron light.


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. "Snake On A Galactic Plane!." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061029095941.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2006, October 29). Snake On A Galactic Plane!. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061029095941.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Snake On A Galactic Plane!." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061029095941.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's Dawn To Make Low-Key Ceres Approach Friday

NASA's Dawn To Make Low-Key Ceres Approach Friday

Newsy (Mar. 6, 2015) NASA&apos;s Dawn spacecraft will end the travel phase of its journey to Ceres with a comparatively boring deceleration. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Spacecraft Orbits Ceres for 16-Month Study

U.S. Spacecraft Orbits Ceres for 16-Month Study

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) A U.S. space probe slips into orbit around Ceres, a miniature planet beyond Mars believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system, NASA says. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hubble Sees Rare 'Einstein Cross' Image Of Distant Supernova

Hubble Sees Rare 'Einstein Cross' Image Of Distant Supernova

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) A rare trick of the light caused by the gravity of a distant galaxy caused Hubble to see four images of the same supernova at once. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's Up March 2015

What's Up March 2015

NASA (Mar. 4, 2015) A total solar eclipse in the North Atlantic and tips to prepare for the next U.S. eclipse. Video provided by NASA
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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