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Bow Shock Near a Young Star

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Revealing the stunning and intricate treasures that reside within the nearby, intense star-forming region known as the Great Nebula in Orion, the Hubble Space Telescope focused on one such jewel--a bow shock around the very young star, LL Ori.

Named for the crescent-shaped wave made by a ship as it moves through water, a bow shock can be created in space when two streams of gas collide. LL Ori emits a vigorous solar wind, a stream of charged particles moving rapidly outward from the star. Our own sun has a less energetic version of this wind that is responsible for auroral displays on the Earth.

The material in the fast wind from LL Ori collides with slow-moving gas evaporating away from the center of the Orion Nebula, which is located to the lower right in this Heritage image. The surface where the two winds collide is the crescent-shaped bow shock seen in the image.

Unlike a water wave made by a ship, this interstellar bow shock is a three-dimensional structure. The filamentary emission has a very distinct boundary on the side facing away from LL Ori, but is diffuse on the side closest to the star, a characteristic common to many bow shocks.

This image was taken in February 1995 as part of the Hubble Orion Nebula mosaic.

Image Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

 

The Brightest of Stars

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Swirls of gas and dust reside in this ethereal-looking region of star formation seen by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. This majestic view, located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), reveals a region where low-mass, infant stars and their much more massive stellar neighbors reside. A shroud of blue haze gently lingers amid the stars.

Known as LH 95, this is just one of the hundreds of star-forming systems, called associations, located in the LMC some 160,000 light-years distant. Earlier ground-based observations of such systems had only allowed astronomers to study the bright blue giant stars present in these regions. With Hubble's resolution, the low-mass stars can now be analyzed, which will allow for a more accurate calculation of their ages and masses.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
 

Trifids!

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Dust pillars are like interstellar mountains. They survive because they are more dense than their surroundings; however, they are being slowly eroded by a hostile environment. Visible in the image above is the end of a huge gas and dust pillar in the Trifid Nebula, punctuated by a smaller pillar pointing up and an unusual jet pointing to the left. The pink dots are newly formed low-mass stars.

Image Credit: NASA, HST, WFPC2
 

Snowflakes in the Universal Sky

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Like cascading snowflakes in the interstellar night, the strange shapes and textures of the stars in the Snowflake Cluster abound in the Cone Nebula. These patterns result from the tumultuous unrest that accompanies the formation of the open cluster of stars known as NGC 2264. Bright stars from the cluster dot the field and they soon heat up and destroy the gas and dust mountains in which they formed. One such dust mountain is the famous Cone Nebula, visible in the above image on the left, pointing toward a bright star near the center of the field.

Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, P. S. Teixeira (CfA)
 

The Fairy of Eagle Nebula

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The dust sculptures of the Eagle Nebula are evaporating. As powerful starlight whittles away these cool cosmic mountains, the statuesque pillars that remain might be imagined as mythical beasts.

Pictured above is one of the Eagle Nebula's striking dust pillars that could be imagined as a gigantic fairy. This fairy, however, does not grant wishes; instead, it is ten light-years tall and spews radiation much hotter than common fire. The greater Eagle Nebula, M16, is actually a giant evaporating shell of gas and dust inside of which is a growing cavity filled with a spectacular stellar nursery currently forming an open cluster of stars. The above image was released as part of the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI/AURA
 

Stellar Jewel Box

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Thousands of sparkling young stars are nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603, one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy.

NGC 3603, a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way about 20,000 light-years away, image reveals stages in the life cycle of stars.

Powerful ultraviolet radiation and fast winds from the bluest and hottest stars have blown a big

Celestial Fireworks

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Resembling the puffs of smoke and sparks from a summer fireworks display, this Hubble image depicts the delicate filaments debris from a stellar explosion in a neighboring galaxy.

Denoted N 49, or DEM L 190, this remnant is from a massive star that died in a supernova blast whose light would have reached Earth thousands of years ago. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars. Our own sun and planets are constructed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way billions of years ago.

This seemingly gentle structure also harbors a very powerful spinning neutron star that may be the central remnant from the initial blast. It is quite common for the core of an exploded supernova star to become a spinning neutron star (also called a pulsar because of the regular pulses of energy from the rotational spin) after the immediate shedding of the star's outer layers. In the case of N 49, not only is the neutron star spinning at a rate of once every 8 seconds, it also has a super-strong magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than Earth's magnetic field. This places this star into the exclusive class of objects called magnetars.

Image Credit: Image Credit: NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), Y.-H. Chu (UIUC), S. Kulkarni (Caltech) and R. Rothschild (UCSD)
 

Stellar Babies

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Infant stars glow gloriously in this infrared image of the Serpens Constellation's star-forming region, located approximately 8484 light-years away.

Glowing pink baby stars are embedded in the cosmic cloud of gas and dust that collapsed to create them. Dusty disks of cosmic debris that may eventually form planets surround the stars in this image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

 

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