Gas pillar in the Eagle nebula
Gas pillar in the Eagle nebula (M16), Hubble Space Telescope image. This is a 9.5-light-year-tall pillar of cold gas and dust silhouetted against a bright emission nebula. The dense pockets of dust and gas in this pillar may be in the process of condensing into stars. The upper part of the pillar is glowing as it is heated and compressed by radiation from hot young stars out of frame at upper left. The colours here come from ionised gases; the blue from oxygen and the orange from hydrogen. The Eagle nebula lies around 7000 light years from Earth in the constellation Serpens Cauda. This image was taken in November 2004 by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the HST.
© Nasa/Esa/Stsci/Hubble Heritage Team/Science Photo Library
Starburst galaxy M82, coloured compositeimage. This irregular galaxy, 10.5 million lightyears away, consists of a horizontal stellar disk(white) and a perpendicular supergalactic wind ofionised gas (coloured purple). Starburst galaxiesare distinguished by their exceptionally highlevel of star formation, and it is the energyreleased from this which powers the wind. Purplerepresents ionised hydrogen and sulphur. Thecombined images have been used to study theconnection between the superwind and the galaxy'sstructure. They were taken by the WIYN 3.5-metretelescope on Kitt Peak, USA, and the WFPC2 cameraon the Hubble Space Telescope.
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© Noao/Aura/Nsf/Science Photo Library
Reflection nebula (NGC 1999)
Reflection nebula (NGC 1999), optical image. Thisnebula (bright object left of centre) is a largecloud of dust and gas lying around 1500 lightyears from Earth in the constellation Orion. Itdoes not emit light of its own, but reflectslight from the nearby V380 star. It appears bluebecause short-wavelength blue light is scatteredmore than red by the dust particles. Just visibleas a black dot within the nebula is the silhouetteof a dark nebula, or thick dust cloud, in theforeground, blocking the light from behind. Thereddish regions are due to areas of emissionnebulosity, where the radiation of hot young starsionises hydrogen gas and causes it to glow.
© Robert Gendler/Science Photo Library