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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The clouds of Vela....

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Yet another brain spanking beautiful image from ESA, and their infra red Herschel space telescope [1]:

Image above: The Vela C star spawning region: Star birth, life, and death, all happening in one picture. Image courtesy of ESA.

The picture shows the Vela C region of the Vela star forming complex [2]. Here's the link [3] to the relevant bit of ESA's website. Take ten minutes of your lunch break, and cup of coffee over it.

Oh, and if you liked this, you might be interested in the on-line showcase of Herschel images [4].

But set the alarm on your phone, or you'll forget to eat lunch. And your boss will complain.

Herschel 'sees' the infra red light given off by the dust in these clouds, and the cooler the dust the longer the infra red wavelength: Here red is the longest wavelength (coolest) shading through yellow green to blue  (hottest). Although 'hot' is only in comparison to space itself. So 'slightly less incredibly cold' would be more appropriate.

We can see almost all the stages of a stars development here: The cool, collapsing filaments of dust and gas the come before a star (the red clouds), the collapsing proto-stellar cores and proto-stars (the yellow dots), and regions where a full formed star has heated the dust and gas  (The blue / green clouds). Those full fledged stars are hot, short lived, blue stars, destined to end their lives in a very large explosion....

There are much worse things to spend your lunch break contemplating......  

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