Categories: Hubble

Hubble’s Snow Angel

[/caption]

If you need a little help getting into the holiday spirit, the Hubble Space Telescope is here to assist. This gorgeous new image shows a bipolar star-forming region, called Sharpless 2-106, (S106 for short) which looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel. The outstretched “wings” of the nebula are actually the contrasting imprint of heat and motion against the backdrop of a colder medium. Twin lobes of super-hot gas, glowing blue in this image, stretch outward from the central star, forming the wings.

Hubble snapped this image in February 2011, using the Wide Field Camera 3. Visible narrow-band filters that isolate the hydrogen gas were combined with near-infrared filters that show structure in the cooler gas and dust.

A massive, young star, IRS 4 (Infrared Source 4), is responsible for all the activity here. A ring of dust and gas orbiting the star acts like a belt, cinching the expanding nebula into an hourglass shape. Hubble’s sharp resolution reveals ripples and ridges in the gas as it interacts with the cooler interstellar medium.

Although you can’t see them here, detailed studies of the nebula have also uncovered several hundred brown dwarfs. At purely infrared wavelengths, more than 600 of these sub-stellar objects appear. These “failed” stars weigh less than a tenth of the Sun. Because of their low mass, they cannot produce energy through nuclear fusion like the Sun does.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

Recent Posts

A Star has Grown Spiral Arms

Astronomers using the ALMA Observatory have discovered an unusual, massive star near the center of…

8 hours ago

Curiosity Finds Life-Crucial Carbon in Mars Rocks

We are carbon-based life forms. That means the basis for the chemical compounds that forms…

8 hours ago

Rocket Lab Launches NASA’s CAPSTONE Mission to the Moon

A microwave oven–sized cubesat launched to space today from New Zealand by commercial company Rocket…

10 hours ago

Water Worlds Could Have Plumes of Nutrients Carried up From Down Below

Earth's oceans are one huge, uniform electrolyte solution. They contain salt (sodium chloride) and other…

13 hours ago

Gaia Could Detect Free-Floating Black Holes Passing Near Stars in the Milky Way

The thing with black holes is they're hard to see. Typically we can only detect…

1 day ago

We Could Discover new Kinds of Particles Around Black Holes Through Gravitational Waves

A new study has shown how gravitational waves can be used to detect exotic particles…

1 day ago