Pillars of cold gas seem to melt in the hot radiation from nearby stars in a picture of the Carina nebula released September 16. The Hubble Space Telescope shot captures light emitted by hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the gas clouds.
The Carina nebula is a star-forming region 7,500 light-years from Earth. Massive stars in the nebula are constantly emitting streams of charged particles, which sculpt the surrounding gases and dust. Inside the darker, denser regions, new stars are likely being born.
Image courtesy ESA/NASA
Waves of dust and gas wash over bright stars at the heart of the Lagoon Nebula in a Hubble Space Telescope picture released September 22. The composite image shows glowing hydrogen (red), nitrogen (green), and starlight (blue).
Recent studies of the nebula have helped build support for theories of star birth. Astronomers had calculated that growing stars would occasionally shoot out long tendrils of matter from their poles, and in the past five years, several examples of these stellar jets have been seen in the Lagoon.
Also called DG 129, the cloud is a reflection nebula—meaning it glows not from within but by reflecting light from nearby stars. Pi Scorpii is the bright star at right surrounded by a green haze. Actually a triple star system, the dot, when seen from Earth, is one of the claws in the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion.
Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE
The Red Center of Australia
A veil of white clouds hovers over the crimson soil and sparse greenery of Australia's Lake Eyre Basin, aka the Red Center, in a newly released picture taken in July by the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite.
The basin, one of the world's largest internally draining regions, covers roughly 463,000 square miles (1.2 million square kilometers)—an area equivalent in size to France, Germany, and Italy combined.
Image courtesy Envisat/ESA
Springtime for Titan
Yellow clouds of ethane gather in the magenta atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan in a pair of false-color pictures released September 21 and taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
Together, the pictures show a huge cloud system dissolving as seasons slowly change at the north pole (the image at right is "upside down"). Titan's northern-hemisphere winter, which lasts seven Earth years, officially gave way to spring during the Saturnian equinox in August 2009.