A roiling interstellar cloud and filled with newborn starsshines in vivid colors in a newly released snapshot from the Hubble SpaceTelescope.
The wispy pink and yellow cloud in the new Hubblephoto, which scientists released Tuesday, is made of mostly hydrogen gasheated by fierce ultraviolet radiation from the new stars at its heart. Thecloud, called NGC 2467, lies in the southern constellation of Puppis about13,000 light-years from Earth.
The stars form when gas in the cloud condenses under its owngravity and becomes packed enough to ignite nuclear fusion. Bright blue dotsrepresent hotyoung stars in the photo, which includes observations taken from 2004.
Astronomers think most of the radiation in this nebula comesfrom the single hot and brilliant massive star just above the center of theimage. Its strong radiation has cleared the surrounding region, and some of thenextgeneration of stars are forming in the denser regions around the edge.
The NASA/ESA Hubble telescope was launched in April 1990.Since then, it has observed more than 30,000 celestial targets taken more thana half-million pictures in its archive. The most recent astronaut servicingmission to the observatory in May 2009 made the telescope 100 times morepowerful than when it was first launched.
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