Making New Stars

07 Apr

The universe is so amazing. It is so dark, yet it is really bright. The space between planets and galaxies is cold, yet there is warmth. If there was ever a real paradox, it is the universe. Our three-dimensional universe is filled with contradictions, but it is a beautiful place filled with breathtaking vistas and awe inspiring events. Who knows where our search of the heavens will take us. Seeing pictures like the one below makes my soul yearn for ability to travel in deep space like in the movies Star Trek or Star Wars. I believe that if a spaceship landed and offered the opportunity to us, Joe and I would hop on and I’d shout: “Take us to warp 8, Scotty!”

Rho Ophiuchi

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Rho Ophiuchi might look like an abstract painting, but this splash of colors is in fact a busy star-forming complex. WISE, NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer captured the picturesque image of the region, which is one of the closest star-forming complexes to Earth.

The amazing variety of colors seen in this image represents different wavelengths of infrared light. The bright white nebula in the center of the image is glowing due to heating from nearby stars, resulting in what is called an emission nebula. The same is true for most of the multi-hued gas prevalent throughout the entire image, including the bluish, bow-shaped feature near the bottom right. The bright red area in the bottom right is light from the star in the center–Sigma Scorpii–that is reflected off of the dust surrounding it, creating what is called a reflection nebula. And the much darker areas scattered throughout the image are pockets of cool, dense gas that block out the background light, resulting in absorption (or ‘dark’) nebulae. WISE’s longer wavelength detectors can typically see through dark nebulae, but these are exceptionally opaque.

The bright pink objects just left of center are young stellar objects–baby stars just beginning to form. Many of them are still enveloped in their own tiny compact nebulae. In visible light, these baby stars are completely hidden in the dark nebula that surrounds them. Also seen in this image are some of the oldest stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The first cluster, M80, is on the far right edge of the image towards the top. The second, NGC 6144, is found close to the bottom edge near the center. They both appear as small densely compacted groups of blue stars. Globular clusters such as these typically harbor some of the oldest stars known, some as old as 13 billion years, born soon after the universe formed.


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in News Article, Science


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3 responses to “Making New Stars

  1. in every atom

    April 8, 2011 at 4:45 am

    You are brave regarding wanting to explore space. I am content looking at it from the earth. 🙂

  2. charlesmichelduke

    April 9, 2011 at 8:27 am

    One regret that I have in my life is that I will never be able to travel into space and see the rest of the cosmos. And that in my lifetime, humans will never *really know* what is beyond our tiny Solar System.

    I love wandering, and space travel would be the ultimate holiday plan! Oh well, I guess my feet have to stay on Earth, but one day, we humans will have the ability to somehow overcome the light barrier. It is only a matter of ingenuity…

  3. Chip Harrington

    April 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Great pic. Love the blog site


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