Hubble captures 'ethereal' star nursery ahead of 33rd anniversary
The Hubble Space Telescope is just five days away from its thirty-third anniversary, and its latest snapshot of the cosmos is a testament to the orbiting instrument's power to probe the Universe.
On Thursday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released images of a star nursery called NGC 1333 located approximately 960 light-years away inside the Perseus molecular cloud.
"Hubble's colorful view, showcased through its unique capability to obtain images from ultraviolet to near-infrared light, unveils an effervescent cauldron of glowing gasses and pitch-black dust stirred up and blown around by several hundred newly forming stars embedded within the dark cloud. Hubble just scratches the surface because most of the star-birthing firestorm is hidden behind clouds of fine dust – essentially soot – that are thicker toward the bottom of the image," NASA explained. "The blackness in the image is not empty space, but filled with obscuring dust."
READ MORE: Some scientists think we may be living in a Groundhog Day universe
Hubble's observation offers tantalizing clues into the formation of our own solar system, which astronomers contend coalesced from the gas and dust left over from older generations of giant stars that went supernova at least 4.6 billion years ago.
"Our Sun didn't form in isolation but was instead embedded inside a mosh pit of frantic stellar birth," NASA said in a press briefing, "perhaps even more energetic and massive than NGC 1333."
Earlier this month, Hubble also spotted "a supermassive black hole three times the diameter of our whole galaxy, speeding through the Universe so fast that it would pass the Earth and arrive at the Moon in just 14 minutes." Trailing behind the object is a 200,000-light-year-long tail of debris that has given birth to hot, young, blue stars.
"Rather than gobbling up stars ahead of it, like a cosmic Pac-Man, the speedy black hole is plowing into gas in front of it to trigger new star formation along a narrow corridor," NASA noted.
READ MORE: MIT reports 'unusual' radio signal from a 'far-off galaxy'
Meanwhile, the James Webb Space Telescope offered its own incredible discovery this week.
On Monday, the JWST team published a photo of two spiral galaxies merging 250 million light-years away with a combined luminosity a trillion times that of our Sun.
Watch NASA's footage below or at this link.
Hubble's 33rd Anniversary: Dark Nebula is a Cauldron of Star Birthyoutu.be
READ MORE: Look up: The James Webb Space Telescope uncloaks a dazzling and dynamic cosmos
NASA's full release is available here.
- An astronomer on the team sending a giant new telescope to space explains what they hope to discover ›
- Trump's Space Force hilariously mocked for releasing utility uniform nametape with one glaring design problem ›
- To the moon and beyond 5: What space exploration will look like in 2069 ›