Stars are born and die all the time in the sky above our heads. And NASA's Hubble Space Telescope often captures incredible images of both moments. This time, the orbital observatory spotted an impressive stellar nursery lit by the bright blue light of baby stars.
Known as the Chameleon Cloud Complex, this stellar nursery is 65 light-years across, occupying most of the Chameleon Constellation, which is visible from Earth's Southern Hemisphere. Located 522 light-years from our planet, this area is one of the closest active star-forming regions to here.
Understand the image captured by Hubble
According to NASA, the new Hubble image — made up of 23 observations from the space telescope — captures just one of three segments of the vast region, called the Chameleon Cloud 1 (Cha 1).
In it are dark, dusty molecular clouds where new stars form, along with reflection nebulae that glow a shimmering blue from the light of newborn stars nearby.
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According to a statement issued by the US space agency, the telescope also captured bright clusters and arcs known as Herbig-Haro objects, which form as follows: gas ejected by protostars collides with clouds of gas and dust, and , in turn, the jets of infant stars energize the gas.
"The white-orange cloud at the bottom of the image hosts one of these protostars at its center," said the Hubble team at NASA. "Its bright white jets of hot gas are ejected in narrow streams from the protostar's poles, creating the Herbig-Haro object HH 909A."
Observations of Cha 1 were collected during the agency's hunt for extremely faint, low-mass "failed stars" known as brown dwarfs, which are more massive than most planets but not heavy enough to ignite like stars.
The images were taken using the Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) instruments. The cross-burst around the stars is created as their bright light bends around Hubble's cross-shaped struts, which support the telescope's secondary mirror.
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