Astronomy Now Home
Home Magazine Resources Store

On Sale Now!

The October 2014 issue of Astronomy Now is on sale! Order direct from our store (free 1st class post & to UK addresses). Astronomy Now is the only astronomy magazine specially designed to be read on tablets and phones. Download the app from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Top Stories

Earthshine used to test life detection method
...By imagining the Earth as an exoplanet, scientists observing our planet's reflected light on the Moon with ESO's Very Large Telescope have demonstrated a way to detect life on other worlds...

Solid buckyballs discovered in space
...Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have detected a particular type of molecule, given the nickname “buckyball”, in a solid form for the first time...

Steamy water-world gets the Hubble treatment
...Hubble Space Telescope observations of a 7 Earth-mass planet find an unusual water-rich world swathed in a thick, steamy atmosphere...

A festive treat from Hubble
Posted: December 15, 2009

Bookmark and Share

In time for the festive season, Hubble scientists have revealed a new image complete with a Christmas tree silhouette carved into a nebula awash with brilliant blue stars and warm glowing clouds.

In this image of 30 Doradus, blue light is from the hottest most massive stars, green from the glow of oxygen and red from fluorescing hydrogen. NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O’Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee.

The stellar grouping, R136, is just a few million years old and is located in the 30 Doradus Nebula within the turbulent star-forming region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The icy-blue coloured stars are some of the most massive known, weighing in at over 100 times that of our own Sun. These stars will die in cataclysmic supernova explosions in a few million years time, but at present these brilliant stars are burning deep cavities into the surrounding material with their powerful ultraviolet radiation, producing a turbulent landscape of pillars, ridges and valleys.

There is even a festive Christmas tree-shape standing out in the centre of the image as a dark region against the warm, red nebulosity of glowing hydrogen gas. The tree appears to be lit up with strands of blue lights and a red star shining at top.

As well as dominating the shapes that reside within 30 Doradus, the young stars are also contributing to the formation of future generations of stars. When their energetic winds strike dense walls of gas they create shocks that trigger new waves of star birth.

The LMC is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way and its movement around our Galaxy and its interaction with the companion Small Magellanic Cloud could have triggered the formation of the massive star cluster by compressing gas in the LMC, building up enough pressure to provoke star formation. Star birth and galaxy interactions were common in the early Universe, and this cluster provides a rare, nearby example of such activity.

The new image was taken in ultraviolet, visible and red light by Hubble's new Wide Field Camera 3 between 20 and 27 October, and spans about 100 light years.

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!


© 2014 Pole Star Publications Ltd.