Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hubble peers inside a celestial geode

12.08.2004


Real geodes are handball-sized, hollow rocks that start out as bubbles in volcanic or sedimentary rock. Only when these inconspicuous round rocks are split in half by a geologist, do we get a chance to appreciate the inside of the rock cavity that is lined with crystals. In the case of Hubble’s 35 light-year diameter ’celestial geode’ the transparency of its bubble-like cavity of interstellar gas and dust reveals the treasures of its interior.


In this unusual image, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures a rare view of the celestial equivalent of a geode - a gas cavity carved by the stellar wind and intense ultraviolet radiation from a young hot star.



The object, called N44F, is being inflated by a torrent of fast-moving particles (what astronomers call a "stellar wind") from an exceptionally hot star (the bright star just below the centre of the bubble) once buried inside a cold dense cloud. Compared with our Sun (which is losing mass through the so-called "solar wind"), the central star in N44F is ejecting more than a 100 million times more mass per second and the hurricane of particles moves much faster at 7 million km per hour (as opposed to less than 1.5 million km per hour for our Sun). Because the bright central star does not exist in empty space but is surrounded by an envelope of gas, the stellar wind collides with this gas, pushing it out, like a snow plough. This forms a bubble, whose striking structure is clearly visible in the crisp Hubble image.

The nebula N44F is one of a handful of known interstellar bubbles. Bubbles like these have been seen around evolved massive stars (so-called Wolf-Rayet stars), and also around clusters of stars (where they are called "super-bubbles"). But they have rarely been viewed around isolated stars, as is the case here.


On closer inspection N44F harbours additional surprises. The interior wall of its gaseous cavity is lined with several four to eight light-year high finger-like columns of cool dust and gas. (The structure of these "columns" is similar to the Eagle Nebula’s iconic "Pillars of Creation" photographed by Hubble a decade ago, and is seen in a few other nebulae as well). The fingers are created by a blistering ultraviolet radiation from the central star. Like wind socks caught in a gale, they point in the direction of the energy flow. These pillars look small in this image only because they are much farther away from us then the Eagle Nebula’s pillars.

N44F is located about 160,000 light-years in the neighbouring dwarf galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, in the direction of the southern constellation Dorado. N44F is part of the larger N44 complex, which contains a large super-bubble, blown out by the combined action of stellar winds and multiple supernova explosions. N44 itself is roughly 1,000 light-years across. Several compact star-forming regions, including N44F, are found along the rim of the central super-bubble.

This image was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, using filters that isolate light emitted by sulphur (shown in blue, a 1,200-second exposure) and hydrogen gas (shown in red, a 1,000-second exposure).

Lars Lindberg Christensen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.eso.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht 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

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: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

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...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

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...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

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...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>