The Ghost Head Nebula
NGC 2080. Credit: Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri (Observatoire de Paris) et al
This image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveals a vibrant green and red nebula far from Earth, where nature seems to have put on the traditional colours of the season. These colours, produced by the light emitted by oxygen and hydrogen, help astronomers investigate the star-forming processes in nebulas such as NGC 2080.
The light from the nebula captured in this image is emitted by two elements, hydrogen and oxygen. The red and the blue light are from regions of hydrogen gas heated by nearby stars. The green light on the left comes from glowing oxygen. The energy to illuminate the green light is supplied by a powerful stellar wind (a stream of high-speed particles) coming from a massive star just outside the image.
The white region in the center is a combination of all three emissions and indicates a core of hot, massive stars in this star-formation region. The intense emission from these stars has carved a bowl-shaped cavity in the surrounding gas.
In the white region, the two bright areas (the "eyes of the ghost") - named A1 (left) and A2 (right) - are very hot, glowing "blobs" of hydrogen and oxygen. The bubble in A1 is produced by the hot, intense radiation and powerful stellar wind from a single massive star. A2 has a more complex appearance due to the presence of more dust, and it contains several hidden, massive stars. The massive stars in A1 and A2 must have formed within the last 10,000 years, since their natal gas shrouds are not yet disrupted by the powerful radiation of the newly born stars.
This "enhanced colour" picture spanning 55 light years in the above image is composed of three narrow-band-filter images obtained with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The colours are red (ionized hydrogen, H-alpha, 1040 seconds), green (ionized oxygen, 1200 seconds) and blue (ionized hydrogen, H-beta, 1040 seconds).
The Ghost Head Nebula NGC 2080 is a star forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way.
Halloween's ancient & astronomical origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
[+/-] Click here to expand
Seeing Colour in Nebulae from A Quantum Diaries Survivor
Celestial Mandrill Is A Cosmic Ghost from Scientific Blogging
Astronomers simulate life & death in the Universe from Science Daily