Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cosmic Rosebud

“The universe is full of magical things
patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

~Eden Phillpotts, A Shadow Passes

WISE telescope captures space 'rose'

NASA's new infrared telescope has produced another stunning image of newly born stars emerging from dusty clouds.

NASA released the image of the "cosmic rosebud" Wednesday, showing stars in the Berkeley 59 cluster, about 3,300 light years from Earth.

The false colours in the image are meant to represent different wavelengths of infrared light captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, satellite.

The blue dots to the right of centre of the image represent stars that are just a few million years old, very young on the scale of lifetimes of stars. The red glow surrounding the stars is dust in the nebula heated by the stars.

The green material is essentially ash, chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are the result of combustion. The material is found on Earth in such places as fireplaces, barbecue pits and exhaust pipes.

The blue stars around the edges of the image are stars from our own Milky Way galaxy.

The gas and dust in this nebula have been blown outward by a supernova, giving it a flower-like shape.

Astronomy Picture of the Day


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