Hubble's newest camera eyes hotbed of star formation

Esahubble_heic0206d_1024

esahubble_heic0206d April 30th, 2002

Credit: NASA, Holland Ford (JHU), the ACS Science Team and ESA

A watercolour fantasyland? No. It's actually a photograph of the centre of the Swan Nebula, or M17, a hotbed of newly born stars wrapped in colourful blankets of glowing gas and cradled in an enormous cold, dark hydrogen cloud. This stunning picture was taken by the newly installed Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The region of the nebula shown in this picture is about 3500 times wider than our Solar System. The area also represents about 60 percent of the total view captured by ACS. The nebula resides 5500 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. Like its famous cousin in Orion, the Swan Nebula is illuminated by ultraviolet radiation from young, massive stars - each about six times hotter and 30 times more massive than the Sun - located just beyond the upper right corner of the image. The powerful radiation from these stars evaporates and erodes the dense cloud of cold gas within which the stars formed. The blistered walls of the hollow cloud shine primarily in the blue, green, and red light emitted by excited atoms of hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulphur. Particularly striking is the rose-like feature, seen to the right of centre, which glows in the red light emitted by hydrogen and sulphur. As the infant stars evaporate the surrounding cloud, they expose dense pockets of gas that may contain developing stars. Because these dense pockets are more resistant to the withering radiation than the surrounding cloud, they appear as sculptures in the walls of the cloud or as isolated islands in a sea of glowing gas. One isolated pocket is seen at the centre of the brightest region of the nebula and is about 10 times larger than our Solar System. Other dense pockets of gas have formed the remarkable feature jutting inward from the left edge of the image, which resembles the famous Horsehead Nebula in Orion. The ACS made this observation on 1 and 2 April 2002. The colour image is constructed from four separate images taken in these filters: blue, near infrared, hydrogen alpha, and doubly ionised oxygen. Image credit: NASA, the ACS Science Team (H. Ford, G. Illingworth, M. Clampin, G. Hartig, T. Allen, K. Anderson, F. Bartko, N. Benitez, J. Blakeslee, R. Bouwens, T. Broadhurst, R. Brown, C. Burrows, D. Campbell, E. Cheng, N. Cross, P. Feldman, M. Franx, D. Golimowski, C. Gronwall, R. Kimble, J. Krist, M. Lesser, D. Magee, A. Martel, W. J. McCann, G. Meurer, G. Miley, M. Postman, P. Rosati, M. Sirianni, W. Sparks, P. Sullivan, H. Tran, Z. Tsvetanov, R. White, and R. Woodruff) and ESA

Image Source: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0206d/

Curator: ESA/Hubble, Garching bei München, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Messier 17 Omega Nebula Swan Nebula
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Esahubble_heic0206d_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 18h 20m 37.4s
DEC = -16° 9’ 3.4”
Orientation
North is 95.6° CCW
Field of View
2.7 x 2.0 arcminutes
Constellation
Sagittarius

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Optical (B) 435.0 nm
Arrow_left_green Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Optical (Oiii) 502.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Optical (H-alpha) 658.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Infrared (I) 814.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_red
Esahubble_heic0206d_1280
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ID
heic0206d
Subject Category
B.4.1.2  
Subject Name
Messier 17, Omega Nebula, Swan Nebula
Credits
NASA, Holland Ford (JHU), the ACS Science Team and ESA
Release Date
2002-04-30T15:00:00
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0206d/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope
Instrument
ACS, ACS, ACS, ACS
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red, Red
Band
Optical, Optical, Optical, Infrared
Bandpass
B, Oiii, H-alpha, I
Central Wavelength
435, 502, 658, 814
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
275.155721361, -16.1509494437
Reference Dimension
3220.0, 2415.0
Reference Pixel
1610.0, 1207.5
Scale
-1.38292101238e-05, 1.38292101238e-05
Rotation
95.640000000000242
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
ESA/Hubble
URL
http://www.spacetelescope.org/
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher
ESA/Hubble
Publisher ID
esahubble
Resource ID
heic0206d
Metadata Date
2003-12-09T17:07:09+01:00
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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There is no distance meta data in this image.