A space turkey? Check out this stunning image of a star-formation factory


Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 26-11-2022 20:15 IST | Created: 26-11-2022 20:15 IST
A space turkey? Check out this stunning image of a star-formation factory
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Megeath (University of Toledo) & M. Robberto (STScI)

This composite image exposes the chaos in the Orion Nebula, a star-formation factory located 1,500 light-years away. Imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, the nebula looks like it might host a space turkey.

The Orion Nebula is the brightest spot in the Hunter constellation and it is the closest large star-forming region to Earth. It is a picture book of star formation, from the massive, young stars that are shaping the nebula to the pillars of dense gas that may be the homes of budding stars. Astronomers believe the region contains more than 1,000 young stars.

In this composite image, Hubble's ultraviolet and visible-light view reveal hydrogen and sulfur gas that have been heated and ionized by intense ultraviolet radiation from the four massive stars, collectively called the Trapezium as they are arranged in a trapezoidal pattern, while Spitzer's infrared view exposes carbon-rich molecules in the cloud.

Together, the two telescopes expose the stars in Orion as a rainbow of dots sprinkled throughout this image. The Orange-yellow dots are infant stars deeply embedded in a cocoon of dust and gas. The large cavity near the right of the image was most likely carved by winds from the Trapezium's stars.

Designed to detect infrared radiation, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope concluded its 16+ year mission on January 30th, 2020. The telescope's highly sensitive instruments allowed astronomers to peer into cosmic regions that are hidden from optical telescopes, including dusty stellar nurseries, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems.

Hubble, on the other hand, can observe visible, near-infrared light and ultraviolet light. The space-based telescope has beamed hundreds of thousands of celestial images back to Earth during its time in space.

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