Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Blushing dusty nebula

02.12.2009
A recent NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of part of NGC 7023, or the Iris Nebula, highlights a perfect dust laboratory in the sky.

On Earth, we tend to find dust nothing more than a nuisance that blankets our furniture and causes us to sneeze. Cosmic dust can also be a hindrance to astronomers because cameras using visible light cannot see through it. However, studying cosmic dust in detail helps astronomers to pin down the ingredients of the raw mixture that eventually gives birth to stars.

This close-up of an area in the northwest region of the large Iris Nebula seems to be clogged with cosmic dust. With bright light from the nearby star HD 200775 [1] illuminating it from above, the dust resembles thick mounds of billowing cotton. It is actually made up of tiny particles of solid matter, with sizes from ten to a hundred times smaller than those of the dust grains we find at home [2]. Both background and foreground stars are dotted throughout the image.

NGC 7023 is a reflection nebula, which means it scatters light from a massive nearby star, in this case, HD 200775. Reflection nebulae are different from emission nebulae, which are clouds of gas that are hot enough to emit light themselves. Reflection nebulae tend to appear blue because of the way light scatters, but parts of the Iris Nebula appear unusually red.

Researchers studying the object are particularly interested in the region to the left and slightly above centre in the image, where they find dusty filaments to be redder than expected. An unknown chemical compound, most likely based on hydrocarbons, is responsible for the red tinge. The high resolution and sensitivity of Hubble’s instruments allow astronomers to study the area in detail. Images and spectra are only part of the analysis. On Earth, scientists are performing additional laboratory tests to assess better the exact chemical composition of the nebula.

NGC 7023 was discovered by Sir William Herschel in 1794; the nebula is in the constellation of Cepheus, the King, in the northern sky. NGC 7023 is approximately 1400 light–years from Earth and about six light-years across. This aethereal image was taken by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Astronomers also used Hubble’s Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) instrument to try to determine which chemical elements are present in the nebula.

Notes for editors:

North is down, East is right. The field of view is 3.3 arcminutes. The image is a composite of four images obtained through blue, green, near-infrared and H-alpha filters.

[1] HD 200775 is about ten times the mass of the Sun.

[2] The typical sizes of cosmic dust grains range between a few hundredths of a micron and several microns.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Image credit: NASA & ESA

These observations were obtained by a team led by Karl Gordon from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Contacts:

Colleen Sharkey
Hubble/ESA, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6306
Cell: +49 151 153 73591
E-mail: csharkey@eso.org

Colleen Sharkey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.eso.org
http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/html/heic0915.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing
21.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows
21.11.2017 | US Geological Survey

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>