A Celestial Shamrock

Wise_wise2011-011_500

WISE_WISE2011-011 March 17th, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Many consider the shamrock to be a symbol of rebirth and life, making it a fitting symbol for St. Patricks Day, which happens to occur around the same time as the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also fitting that todays image from NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, features a region of star birth wrapped in a blanket of dust, colored green in this infrared view. Designated as LBN 149.02-00.13 (or Sh2-205 in the Sharpless catalog of nebulas), this interstellar cloud of dust and gas is a classic example of what astronomers call an HII region, because of all the ionized hydrogen, or HII, within it. Ionized gases carry an electric charge.

This stellar nursery is made up of a shell of ionized gas surrounding a void with an extremely hot, bright star in the middle. With strong stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation, the central star -- CY Camelopardalis -- both clears away nearby gas and dust and heats the remaining dust in the shell, causing it to glow in the infrared wavelengths that WISE detected. The dust in the surrounding shell, colored green in this image, is mostly made of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon grains, similar to soot. They are warmer in temperature than the more metallic dust grains seen glowing in red around CY Cam. The heavy elements in such dust particles are cooked up in previous generations of stars and then incorporated into the new stars that are born from the cloud. This really is a region of rebirth and life.

Regions very similar to LBN 149.02-00.13 have been featured in previous images, including the LBN 114.55+00.22 , and the LBN 211.91-01.37. Like these, LBN 149.02-00.13 can be found along the band of the Milky Way in the night sky, where clouds of gas and dust are much more common. It is located on the outer edge of our local spiral arm (the Orion Arm) about 3,000 light years away. WISE was particularly adept at seeing these types of regions because its infrared detectors were able to pick up light from the nebulae that many other telescopes cannot see.

Scattered throughout the region you can see small clusters of bright red objects, especially near the upper left portion of the image. These are likely "Young Stellar Objects," surrounded by cocoons of dense dust. Young Stellar Objects are stars in their earliest stages of life, just coming together and beginning to start their nuclear fusion. The clouds of gas and dust surrounding each star provide the material from which future planets might possibly form. Perhaps we are seeing the birth of several new planetary systems in this one image alone.

The colors used in this image represent specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent light emitted at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is predominantly from stars. Green and red represent light from 12 and 22 microns, respectively, which is mostly emitted by dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-011

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
TGU H942 P8
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Appearance » Dark
Nebula » Type » Star Formation
Wise_wise2011-011_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 3h 52m 45.0s
DEC = 53° 28’ 57.2”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
1.7 x 1.7 degrees
Constellation
Camelopardalis

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2011-011_1280
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ID
WISE2011-011
Subject Category
B.4.2.3.   B.4.1.2.  
Subject Name
TGU H942 P8
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-011
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
58.1874548, 53.4825577
Reference Dimension
4500.0, 4500.0
Reference Pixel
2251.0, 2251.0
Scale
-3.81944000000000e-04, 3.81944000000000e-04
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2011-011
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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There is no distance meta data in this image.