Seeing Mountains in Starry Clouds of Creation
By DENNIS OVERBYE
In 1995, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope produced "The Pillars of Creation," an image of stars emerging from biblical-looking clouds of dust that has become an icon of the space age.
Now astronomers operating NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have made their own version. The new image, appropriately called "Mountains of Creation," shows star-forming pillars in a region known as W5 in the constellation Cassiopeia. These pillars, at heights up to 40 light-years, are 10 times as large as those in the famous Hubble image.
The astronomers, led by Lori E. Allen of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, say the towering mountains of the new image probably represent the densest, most fecund remnants of a larger, cloud. It is being eroded by radiation and winds of particles from a ferociously bright star just out of the top of the picture.
Nestled within the dusty pillars are hundreds of embryonic stars. But Spitzer's detectors are designed to see infrared, or "heat," radiation right through the dust, allowing astronomers to study the cloaked stars, which Dr. Allen described as "offspring" of the big star.
"The Sun could have formed in such a cluster, since many stars form in clusters," Dr. Allen said in an e-mail message, explaining that pressure created by the star could compress gas in the cloud, bringing about the formation of new stars.
Also, I love the Word of the Day, today's is particularly amusing:
kobold: in German folklore, a haunting spirit, gnome, or goblin
Because some conservatives can't fathom the less government principle...
More Owen News:
"Lightening McQueen" ... *snicker* and also I want that movie poster. It is too cute!