Space Saturday XXVI

Welcome to the first Space Saturday of the new year! It has been quite a while so I thought I would share a new gorgeous image (that I am blatantly ripping off of Tom’s Astronomy Blog, and I just saw that it was also the APOD for January 10th, 2007): Baby Stars in the SMC.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) - ESA/Hubble Collaboration (Source)
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I think this is one of my new favorite photographs. How can you look at this and not be amazed at the beauty of the universe? Seriously. Download the large version and just look at it. I dare you not to get emotional.

The image is of an area of star birth some 200 thousand light years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud with NGC 602 (an open cluster) at its center. The image is approximately 200 light years across. From HubbleSite:

At the heart of the star-forming region, lies star cluster NGC 602. The high-energy radiation blazing out from the hot young stars is sculpting the inner edge of the outer portions of the nebula, slowly eroding it away and eating into the material beyond. The diffuse outer reaches of the nebula prevent the energetic outflows from streaming away from the cluster.

Ridges of dust and gaseous filaments are seen towards the northwest (in the upper-left part of the image) and towards the southeast (in the lower right-hand corner). Elephant trunk-like dust pillars point towards the hot blue stars and are tell-tale signs of their eroding effect. In this region it is possible with Hubble to trace how the star formation started at the center of the cluster and propagated outward, with the youngest stars still forming today along the dust ridges.

What adds to this image as well are the numerous galaxies visible beyond the SMC. The crisp Hubble image allows us to view the variety of galaxies in our universe. The galaxies beyond are some 100s of million years old while the star birth regions are a mere five million years young. Amazing composition.

That being said, I don’t think any of it does justice to the poetry that this image deserves. Just go look at it some more.

Space Saturday Archive

Categories: Science
  1. Nancy
    January 13th, 2007 at 10:47 | #1

    Hey Matt - were you able to get a peek at Comet McNaught? Tom and I went out last night around sunset - looked to the west and boom, there it was, visible to the naked eye! It was pretty awesome. I used the binnocs to look at it, the tail was beautiful. Tom took a whole roll of pictures, hopefully one will turn out. I guess last night was the last night it was visible here, now it is too close to the sun but soon it will be visible to the Southern Hemisphere. It is supposed to be the brightest comet in 30 years, even brighter than Hale Bopp! Pretty cool!

  2. January 13th, 2007 at 14:17 | #2

    Pretty cool, always makes me feel pretty insignificant though.

  3. January 15th, 2007 at 08:32 | #3

    That is an AWESOME image! :) Thank you for sharing.

  4. January 15th, 2007 at 15:05 | #4

    That is so beautiful. So many people are caught up in right now and don’t take time to appreciate the most wonderful things there are to see.

  5. January 15th, 2007 at 22:19 | #5

    I am bummed that I didn’t get to see the comet! :( It has been really cloudy here and the one day it was fairly clear it had gone down by the time I got out. I would love to check your pictures out!

    Don’t feel insignificant! Feel blessed that we can view such gorgeous sights!

    I agree Susanna! People need to talk the time to “smell the roses” as it were… or look at gorgeous astronomical phenomena!

    Glad you all have enjoyed it!

  1. January 18th, 2007 at 14:23 | #1
  2. January 15th, 2007 at 05:59 | #2

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