Mapping the Densest Dusty Cloud Cores

Spitzer_sig14-010_500

spitzer_sig14-010 May 21st, 2014

Credit:

Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. The clumps were discovered within a huge cosmic cloud of gas and dust. Infrared observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope of these blackest-of-black regions in the cloud paradoxically light the way to understanding how the brightest stars form.

The large cloud looms in the center of this image of the galactic plane from Spitzer. The zoom oval to the right shows details of the cloud, revealing the dense clumps. A new study takes advantage of the shadows cast by these dark clumps to measure the cloud's overall structure and mass. These dense, clumpy pockets of star-forming material within the cloud are so thick with dust that they scatter and block not only visible light, but almost all background infrared light as well.

The dusty cloud, the results suggest, will likely evolve into one of the most massive young clusters of stars in our galaxy. The densest clumps will blossom into the cluster's biggest, most powerful stars, called O-type stars, the formation of which has long puzzled scientists. These hulking stars have major impacts on their local stellar environments while also helping to create the heavy elements needed for life.

The blue callout image reveals the overall darkness of the cloud, calculated using Spitzer's infrared observations at a wavelength of 8 microns. Artifacts left by individual stars have been removed from the data.

The background image combines data from the Spitzer GLIMPSE and MIPSGAL surveys. Blue represents 3.6-micron light and green shows light of 8 microns, both captured by Spitzer's infrared array camera. Red is 24-micron light detected by Spitzer's multiband imaging photometer. The red spot in the center of the zoom oval, unrelated to the new study's findings, is a young star whose radiating heat has lit up a surrounding cocoon of dust.

Image Source: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/5836-sig14-010-Mapping-the-Densest-Dusty-Cloud-Cores

Curator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Public Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Milky Way Galactic Plane
Subject - Milky Way
Galaxy » Component » Disk
Nebula » Type » Interstellar Medium
Nebula » Type » Star Formation
Galaxy
Spitzer_sig14-010_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 18h 44m 2.0s
DEC = -3° 36’ 28.5”
Orientation
North is 62.8° CCW
Field of View
8.3 x 4.5 degrees
Constellation
Aquila

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 3.6 µm
Arrow_left_green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 8.0 µm
Arrow_left_red Spitzer (MIPS) Infrared (Mid-IR) 24.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Spitzer_sig14-010_1280
×
ID
sig14-010
Subject Category
B.5.4.3.   B.4.1.1.   B.4.1.2.   B.5.  
Subject Name
Milky Way, Galactic Plane
Credits
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer
Instrument
IRAC, IRAC, MIPS
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3600, 8000, 24000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
281.00834982, -3.60790989
Reference Dimension
24752, 13520
Reference Pixel
12376, 6760
Scale
-3.3333333333e-4, 3.3333333333e-4
Rotation
62.81
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Spitzer Space Telescope
URL
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
Public Domain
Publisher
Spitzer Science Center
Publisher ID
spitzer
Resource ID
sig14-010.tif
Metadata Date
2017-09-21
Metadata Version
1.1
×

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

×

There is no distance meta data in this image.