Stellar Jewel Box


Stellar Jewel Box

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, reveals stages in the life cycle of stars.

Powerful ultraviolet radiation and fast winds from the bluest and hottest stars have blown a big bubble around the cluster. Moving into the surrounding nebula, this torrent of radiation sculpted the tall, dark stalks of dense gas, which are embedded in the walls of the nebula. These gaseous monoliths are a few light-years tall and point to the central cluster. The stalks may be incubators for new stars.

On a smaller scale, a cluster of dark clouds called “Bok” globules resides at the top, right corner. These clouds are composed of dense dust and gas and are about 10 to 50 times more massive than the sun. Resembling an insect’s cocoon, a Bok globule may be undergoing a gravitational collapse on its way to forming new stars.

The nebula was first discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
  Last Updated: Dec. 21, 2020 Editor: NASA Administrator

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Peter W Watson
December 23, 2020 3:04 am

The Heavens declare the glory of The Lord

December 23, 2020 4:45 am

I love those photos. It’s like watching a bunch of kids in kindergarten figuring out the world around them. Nice.

Tom Abbott
December 23, 2020 4:54 am

We need bigger telescopes. We need bigger telescopes in orbit. We need one about the size of the Earth’s orbit.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 23, 2020 6:06 am

We have it, but don’t bother to use it. Number of radio telescopes use combined output to create a single RT size of the Earth. If they take data for the same patch of distant universe once a day for 365 days (equivalent of having 360 RT evenly spaced around the orbit) then combine and re-process data you got your orbit size RT, The image might be slightly blurred for small changes that patch might change in a year, but even that may be easily corrected.

Reply to  Vuk
December 23, 2020 6:11 am

‘365’ RT evenly spaced.
Take image 2 or 3 times a day for even better resolution.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Vuk
December 23, 2020 9:02 am

Sounds good to me! 🙂

Reply to  Vuk
December 23, 2020 10:20 am

If you want to combine the data, the data has to be taken at the same time.

Reply to  MarkW
December 23, 2020 11:49 am

Terrestrial RT are already highly synchronised, just repeating the exorcise at the precise celestial time of the every Earth day to maintain constancy of the celestial angle of the orbital radio telescope’s axis.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 23, 2020 10:30 am

That sounds like something the Fenachrone would do. Bad people, those Fenachrone.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ellen
December 23, 2020 6:28 pm

The Skylark of Space! I loved that series of books.

December 23, 2020 5:44 am

Very cool! 😎

December 23, 2020 6:06 am

The Webb telescope is scheduled to launch in late summer of 2021. They are hoping to keep it under the current $8.8B cost cap! It will be launched using an Arianespace’s Ariane 5 launch vehicle. This thing is probably the most over budget and late space project NASA has ever done. About the only saving grace is how far optics has changed and gotten better and some of it has found its way into the telescope.

Of course using a French launch vehicle might put a lot of people on the edge of their seats for about 8 minutes as they shoot it into the sky.

I would think maybe future projects like these might be broken into smaller parts and assembled in space. You could put up a bigger device and with more space available to the designers, the costs would ultimately be lower. Additionally modular design gives you the opportunity to swap out or add pieces in the future to gain capabilities.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  rbabcock
December 23, 2020 9:04 am

“would think maybe future projects like these might be broken into smaller parts and assembled in space. You could put up a bigger device and with more space available to the designers, the costs would ultimately be lower.”

I think we are on the verge of being able to do that, what with private companies now accessing orbit on their own.

Alasdair Fairbairn
December 23, 2020 8:18 am

Why do all these stars show a vertical/horizontal cross on them ? Should they not be just fuzzy round?

Reply to  Alasdair Fairbairn
December 23, 2020 8:47 am

Alastair, “Astronomers call these spikes “diffraction spikes.” They occur on images taken through reflecting telescopes that have a secondary mirror supported by vanes, usually four of them.”

I hope that answers your question.

Reply to  Alasdair Fairbairn
December 23, 2020 8:50 am

It’s mostly how the telescopes “see” them at a distance and how much atmospheric disturbance there is. Besides, what’s wrong with those “crosses”? They’re pretty.

And not all telescopes produce images with the “star crosses”. Some only show the fuzzy round balls of light.

Reply to  Sara
December 23, 2020 10:30 am

The diffraction spikes are an artifact of the support system for the secondary mirror. For telescopes with secondary mirror support vanes, mkelly identified it above (nothing to do with atmospheric effects). For some telescopes with a glass corrector plate on their front, the secondary mirror is just “painted” onto the back of the plate, so you get no diffraction spikes, but a slight extra loss of transmitted light through the plate. Hubble was looking for maximum light-gathering. Also, extra glass would have been much heavier to launch.

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