Like tentacles waving in space, large loops of hot gas rise from the nebula NGC 3582 in a new picture from the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, Chile.
The interstellar cloud of gas and dust is an active star-forming region. But as very massive stars live fast and die young, their explosive demises eject material, likely forming the loops. Meanwhile, newborn stars are emitting intense ultraviolet radiation, heating the gas and causing the nebula to glow.
Image courtesy Joe DePasquale, Digitized Sky Survey 2/ESO
Galactic Magnifying Glass
Thanks to a cluster of galaxies called Abell 383, astronomers were able to find a galaxy that formed when the universe was just 950 million years old. In the above picture from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, released April 13, this early galaxy appears as a faint dot just above the bright central galaxy.
The distant galaxy was detected using a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. The many galaxies in the Abell 383 cluster are collectively so massive that their gravity acts like a huge magnifying glass, bending and amplifying light from objects behind the cluster.
Image courtesy J. Richard (CRAL) and J.-P. Kneib (LAM)/ESA/NASA
Moon's Missing Slice?
Spotted near Saturn's rings, the cratered moon Mimas appears to have had a piece sliced off in a new picture from NASA's Cassini orbiter released April 11.
The unusual sight is due to Herschel Crater, an 81-mile-wide (130-kilometer-wide) impact basin that gives the tiny moon a Death Star-like appearance when seen face-on (see a Herschel Crater closeup). In the new shot, Cassini captured Mimas at such an angle that the crater instead makes the moon look flattened on one side.
This new WISE picture, released April 8, shows that the dusty cloud is a star-forming region that includes examples of early stages of stellar evolution, such as baby stars wrapped up in their natal blankets of dust and clusters of massive stars emerging from cold clumps of gas.
Herschel sees in far-infrared and submillimeter light, and this composite picture combines data from three wavelengths. The view allows scientists to see 27 distinct filaments in this particular region, as well as 45 bright spots within the filaments thought to be prestellar cores—the seeds of stars in the making.
Image courtesy D. Arzoumanian (CEA Saclay) for the “Gould Belt survey” Key Programme Consortium/SPIRE/PACS/Herschel/ESA