Hubble sees stellar birth, destruction in Trifid Nebula
November 9, 1999
Web posted at: 2:23 p.m. EST (1923 GMT)
(CNN) -- A newly released image of the Trifid Nebula provides a glimpse into the life cycle of stars like our sun, NASA said Tuesday.
The image reveals part of a stellar "nursery" -- a dense cloud of dust and gas full of embryonic stars, NASA said in a statement. The fledgling stars are being torn apart by radiation from a nearby, massive star.
The cloud of new starbirth is about 8
light-years away from the nebula's central star, which is beyond the top of the picture.
| MESSAGE BOARD|
Zoom into the Trifid Nebula, beginning with the what Earth-based telescopes can see, then resolving into the extraordinary detail provided by the Hubble Space Telescope
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The thin, wispy object pointing to the upper left of the image is a stellar jet, which extends three-quarters of a light-year into the nebula. The jet's source is a very young stellar object that lies buried within the cloud, astronomers said.
Jets such as this are the exhaust gases of star formation. Radiation from the massive star at the center of the nebula causes the gas in the jet -- and the rest of the nebula -- to glow.
The images were taken September 8, 1997 through filters that isolate emission from hydrogen atoms, ionized sulfur atoms, and doubly ionized oxygen atoms. The images were combined in a single color composite picture.
While the resulting picture is not true color, it is suggestive of what a human eye might see, according to NASA.
The Trifid is about 9,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius.
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