The ‘Serpent’ star-forming cloud hatches new stars


Share post:

Stars that are just beginning to coalesce out of cool swaths of dust and gas are showcased in a new image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). Infrared light has been assigned colors we see with our eyes, revealing young stars in orange and yellow, and a central parcel of gas in blue. This area is hidden in visible-light views, but infrared light can travel through the dust, offering a peek inside the stellar hatchery.

The 'Serpent' star-forming cloud hatches new stars
Within the swaddling dust of the Serpens Cloud Core, astronomers are studying
 one of the youngest collections of stars ever seen in our galaxy
[Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/2MASS]

The dark patch to the left of center is swaddled in so much dust, even the infrared light is blocked. It is within these dark wombs that stars are just beginning to take shape.

Called the Serpens Cloud Core, this star-forming region is located about 750 light-years away in Serpens, or the “Serpent,” a constellation named after its resemblance to a snake in visible light. The region is noteworthy as it only contains stars of relatively low to moderate mass, and lacks any of the massive and incredibly bright stars found in larger star-forming regions like the Orion nebula. Our sun is a star of moderate mass. Whether it formed in a low-mass stellar region like Serpens, or a high-mass stellar region like Orion, is an ongoing mystery.

The inner Serpens Cloud Core is remarkably detailed in this image. It was assembled from 82 snapshots representing a whopping 16.2 hours of Spitzer observing time. The observations were made during Spitzer’s “warm mission,” a phase that began in 2009 after the observatory ran out of liquid coolant, as planned.

Most of the small dots in this image are stars located behind, or in front of, the Serpens nebula.

Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory [June 02, 2014]



Related articles

Anglo-Saxon settlement found at wind farm cable site

Archaeologists have unearthed an Anglo-Saxon settlement as part of preparation work for a £2.5bn wind farm. The settlement is...

Huge water cistern found at the ‘Villa of Augustus’ near Nola

A water cistern 30 metres long and 10 metres wide has been unearthed at the so-called ‘Villa of...

Warming affects ecosystems not just biodiversity

The four-degree rise in temperature predicted by the end of this century could change the way ecosystems work...

Climate change challenges the survival of fish across the world

Climate change will force many amphibians, mammals and birds to move to cooler areas outside their normal ranges,...

Karakhanid tomb unearthed in Kyrgyzstan

A tomb believed to be of a Karakhanid han was unearthed in a joint excavation by the Turkish...

Archaeologists explore the last capital of the Mochica in Northern Peru

Archaeologists working at the Pampa Grande dig site about 50 kilometers outside of Chiclayo have made some fascinating...

Testing the limits of where humans can live

On an isolated segment of islands in the Pacific Ring of Fire, residents endure volcanoes, tsunamis, dense fog,...

‘Eve’ and descendants shape global sperm whale population structure

Although sperm whales have not been driven to the brink of extinction as have some other whales, a...