Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stellar nursery: The rose-red glow of star formation

Date:
April 4, 2011
Source:
European Southern Observatory - ESO
Summary:
The vivid red cloud in a new image from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope is a region of glowing hydrogen surrounding the star cluster NGC 371. This stellar nursery lies in our neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud.

This picture of the star cluster and surrounding nebula NGC 371 was taken using the FORS1 instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. NGC 371 lies in the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way.
Credit: ESO/Manu Mejias

The vivid red cloud in a new image from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope is a region of glowing hydrogen surrounding the star cluster NGC 371. This stellar nursery lies in our neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud.

The object dominating this image may resemble a pool of spilled blood, but rather than being associated with death, such regions of ionised hydrogen -- known as HII regions -- are sites of creation with high rates of recent star birth. NGC 371 is an example of this; it is an open cluster surrounded by a nebula. The stars in open clusters all originate from the same diffuse HII region, and over time the majority of the hydrogen is used up by star formation, leaving behind a shell of hydrogen such as the one in this image, along with a cluster of hot young stars.

The host galaxy to NGC 371, the Small Magellanic Cloud, is a dwarf galaxy a mere 200 000 light-years away, which makes it one of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way. In addition, the Small Magellanic Cloud contains stars at all stages of their evolution; from the highly luminous young stars found in NGC 371 to supernova remnants of dead stars. These energetic youngsters emit copious amounts of ultraviolet radiation causing surrounding gas, such as leftover hydrogen from their parent nebula, to light up with a colourful glow that extends for hundreds of light-years in every direction. The phenomenon is depicted beautifully in this image, taken using the FORS1 instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT).

Open clusters are by no means rare; there are numerous fine examples in our own Milky Way. However, NGC 371 is of particular interest due to the unexpectedly large number of variable stars it contains. These are stars that change in brightness over time. A particularly interesting type of variable star, known as slowly pulsating B stars, can also be used to study the interior of stars through asteroseismology [1], and several of these have been confirmed in this cluster. Variable stars play a pivotal role in astronomy: some types are invaluable for determining distances to far-off galaxies and the age of the Universe.

The data for this image were selected from the ESO archive by Manu Mejias as part of the Hidden Treasures competition [2]. Three of Manu's images made the top twenty; his picture of NGC 371 was ranked sixth in the competition.

Notes

[1] Asteroseismology is the study of the internal structure of pulsating stars by looking at the different frequencies at which they oscillate. This is a similar approach to the study of the structure of Earth by looking at earthquakes and how their oscillations travel through the interior of the planet.

[2] ESO's Hidden Treasures 2010 competition gave amateur astronomers the opportunity to search through ESO's vast archives of astronomical data, hoping to find a well-hidden gem that needed polishing by the entrants. Participants submitted nearly 100 entries and ten skilled people were awarded some extremely attractive prizes, including an all expenses paid trip for the overall winner to ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal, in Chile, the world's most advanced optical telescope. The ten winners submitted a total of 20 images that were ranked as the highest entries in the competition out of the near 100 images.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

European Southern Observatory - ESO. "Stellar nursery: The rose-red glow of star formation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330094004.htm>.
European Southern Observatory - ESO. (2011, April 4). Stellar nursery: The rose-red glow of star formation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330094004.htm
European Southern Observatory - ESO. "Stellar nursery: The rose-red glow of star formation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330094004.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — After more than two years, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover reached Mount Sharp, its long-term destination. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — Elon Musk has been talking about his goal of colonizing Mars for years now, but how much of it does he actually have figured out, and is it possible? 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