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 Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa

nachricht Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>