To celebrate its 24th year in orbit, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has released a beautiful new image of part of NGC 2174, also known as the Monkey Head Nebula. This colourful region is filled with young stars embedded within bright wisps of cosmic gas and dust.
NGC 2174 lies about 6400 light-years away in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Hubble previously viewed this part of the sky back in 2001, creating a stunning image released in 2011, and the space telescope has now revisited the region to celebrate its 24th year of operation.
Nebulae are a favourite target for Hubble. Their colourful plumes of gas and fiery bright stars create ethereally beautiful pictures. Some of the most famous of Hubble's images have been of nebulae — for example, the telescope's 22nd and 23rd anniversary images of the Tarantula (heic1206) and Horsehead (heic1307) nebulae, and its festive 2012 image of planetary nebula NGC 5189 (heic1220).
The detail shown in this image lies within NGC 2174, a nebula which gets its more common name, the Monkey Head Nebula, from its curiously familiar shape when viewed in wide-field images.
The nebula is a violent stellar nursery, packed with the ingredients needed for star formation. However, the recipe for cooking up new stars isn't very efficient and most of the ingredients are wasted as the cloud of gas and dust disperses. This process is accelerated by the presence of fiercely hot young stars which trigger high velocity winds that help to blow the gas outwards.
A vibrant palette of colours can be seen in this new image of NGC 2174. Dark brown and rust-coloured dust clouds billow outwards, framed against a background of bright blue gas. These striking hues are formed by combining several Hubble images taken with different coloured filters, to reveal a broad range of colours not normally visible to the human eye.
The icing on this cosmic birthday cake takes the form of young white and pink stars sprinkled amongst the glowing clouds, pushing away the dark stellar nurseries in which they formed. The key ingredient in NGC 2174 is hydrogen gas, which is ionised by the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the young stars. As a result, this region is also known as an HII region  — a large cloud of ionised gas.
This image marks 24 years of Hubble. This milestone will be further celebrated by a conference being held in Rome, Italy, in March of this year. The conference, entitled Science with the Hubble Space Telescope IV, will highlight and celebrate the scientific breakthroughs that Hubble has made over the last two decades and look into the future at the topics and key questions that will shape the field of astrophysics in the next decade.
This portion of the Monkey Head Nebula was imaged in the infrared using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Hubble's earlier Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 image from 2011 inspired its choice as the telescope's 24th anniversary image. A processed version of the WFPC2 dataset was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by Yurij Tukachev.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.
ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
| ESA/Hubble Media Newsletter
Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark
Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering