Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vast Stellar Nursery: Claret-colored Cloud With A Massive Heart

Date:
October 21, 2008
Source:
ESO
Summary:
An image of the amazing intricacies of a vast stellar nursery, which goes by the name of Gum 29, is now available. In the center, a small cluster of stars -- called Westerlund 2 -- has been found to be the home of one of the most massive double star systems known to astronomers.

This image, based on data obtained with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) camera attached to the 2.2-m Max-Planck/ESO telescope through four different filters (B, V, R, and H-alpha), shows the amazing intricacies of the vast stellar nursery Gum 29. At its centre lies the cluster of young stars Westerlund 2. One object at the bottom of the cluster is in fact a system of two of most massive stars known to astronomers.
Credit: ESO

A new image released by ESO shows the amazing intricacies of a vast stellar nursery, which goes by the name of Gum 29. In the centre, a small cluster of stars — called Westerlund 2 — has been found to be the home of one of the most massive double star systems known to astronomers.

Related Articles


Gum 29 is a huge region of hydrogen gas that has been stripped of its electrons (ionised) by the intense radiation of the hot young stars located at its centre. Astronomers call this an HII (pronounced "H-two") region, and this particularly stunning example stretches out across space for over 200 light-years. The name stems from the fact that it is the 29th entry in the catalogue published by Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum in 1955.

Embedded deep within the huge, nebulous expanse of Gum 29, the relatively little known cluster of Westerlund 2 is clearly seen in the centre of this image. The latest measurements indicate that it lies at a distance of some 26 000 light-years from Earth, placing it towards the outside edge of the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way. The cluster's distance has been the subject of intense scrutiny in the past, as it is one of the parameters needed to understand this intriguing object. Westerlund 2 is very young too, with an age of only 1—2 million years.

Previous observations have shown that two stars to the bottom right of the cluster are true leviathans. Together they form what is known as a double system. The two stars have masses of 82 and 83 times that of our Sun and rotate around each other in approximately 3.7 days. They are amongst the most massive stars known to astronomers.

Detailed observations of this intriguing pair have also shown that they are both Wolf-Rayet stars. These are massive stars nearing the end of their lives, expelling vast quantities of material as their final swansong. Observations made in X-rays have subsequently shown that streams of material from each star continually collide, creating a blaze of X-ray radiation.

The image was obtained with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) camera attached to the 2.2-m Max-Planck/ESO telescope at ESO's La Silla observatory site in Chile. Located at an altitude of 2400 metres in the arid Atacama Desert, this observatory sits under some of the clearest and darkest skies on Earth. The WFI excels at studying the farthest depths of the Universe from this unrivalled vantage point.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

ESO. "Vast Stellar Nursery: Claret-colored Cloud With A Massive Heart." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021120949.htm>.
ESO. (2008, October 21). Vast Stellar Nursery: Claret-colored Cloud With A Massive Heart. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021120949.htm
ESO. "Vast Stellar Nursery: Claret-colored Cloud With A Massive Heart." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021120949.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. 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:

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