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
Earthlike 'Star Wars' Tatooines May Be Common
31.03.2015 | University of Utah
Dusty substructure in a galaxy far far away
31.03.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik
Spring is here and ectotherms, or animals dependent on external sources to raise their body temperature, are becoming more active. Recent studies have shown...
Glass-fronted office buildings are some of the biggest energy consumers, and regulating their temperature is a big job. Now a façade element developed by Fraunhofer researchers and designers for glass fronts is to reduce energy consumption by harnessing solar thermal energy. A demonstrator version will be on display at Hannover Messe.
In Germany, buildings account for almost 40 percent of all energy usage. Heating, cooling and ventilating homes, offices and public spaces is expensive – and...
Outstanding chemical, thermal and tribological properties predestine silicon carbide for the production of ceramic components of high volume. A novel method now overcomes the procedural and technical limitations of conventional design methods for the production of components with large differences in wall thickness and demanding undercuts.
Extremely hard as diamond, shrinking-free manufacturing, resistance to chemicals, wear and temperatures up to 1300 °C: Silicon carbide (SiSiC) bundles all...
In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...
The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.
As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
17.03.2015 | Event News
01.04.2015 | Materials Sciences
01.04.2015 | Earth Sciences
01.04.2015 | HANNOVER MESSE