Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Cosmic Reef | Hubble

The Cosmic Reef | Hubble

This image is one of the most photogenic examples of the many turbulent stellar nurseries the NASA/European Space Agency Hubble Space Telescope has observed. The portrait features the giant nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbor NGC 2020 which together form part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, approximately 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the "Cosmic Reef," because NGC 2014 resembles part of a coral reef floating in a vast sea of stars.

Some of the stars in NGC 2014 are "monster-sized." The sparkling centerpiece of NGC 2014 is a grouping of bright, hefty stars, each 10 to 20 times more massive than our Sun. The stars' ultraviolet radiation heats the surrounding dense gas. The massive stars also unleash fierce winds of charged particles that blast away lower-density gas, forming the bubble-like structures seen on the right. The stars' powerful stellar winds are pushing gas and dust to the denser left side of the nebula, where it is piling up, creating a series of dark ridges bathed in starlight.

The blue areas in NGC 2014 reveal the glow of oxygen, heated to nearly 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit (11,000 degrees Celsius) by the blast of ultraviolet light. The cooler, red gas indicates the presence of hydrogen and nitrogen.

By contrast, the seemingly isolated blue nebula at lower left (NGC 2020) has been created by a solitary mammoth star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. The blue gas was ejected by the star through a series of eruptive events during which it lost part of its outer envelope of material.

In April 2020, NASA celebrated the Hubble Space Telescope's 30 year anniversary of unlocking the beauty and mystery of space by unveiling this stunning new portrait of a firestorm of starbirth in a neighboring galaxy.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

Release Date: April 24, 2020

#NASA #Space #Astronomy #Nebula #NGC2014 #NGC2020 #CosmicReef #LargeMagellanicCloud #LMC #Galaxy #Dorado #Constellation #Science #Astrophysics #Physics #Cosmos #Universe #Telescope #GSFC #STScI #UnitedStates #ESA #Europe #STEM #Education

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