14 October 2013
Nestled within the shell around this large bubble is an embryonic star that is already a hefty eight times more massive than our Sun.
This image, by ESA’s Herschel space observatory, was originally presented in the first announcement of scientific results from the mission in May 2010.
This week Herschel scientists will meet again at ESA’s ESTEC establishment in the Netherlands to present, discuss, and take stock of the scientific breakthroughs of the entire mission at The Universe Explored by Herschel symposium.
The Galactic bubble shown in this image was just one of many surprising results of the mission.
It is about 4300 light-years away and has been blown by a star at its centre. The star is not visible at these infrared wavelengths but pushes on the surrounding dust and gas with nothing more than the power of its starlight.
The pressure exerted on the surrounding material is such that it has begun collapsing into new stars.
The bright knot to the right of the base of the bubble is an unexpectedly large, embryonic star, revealed to Herschel’s infrared detectors by heating up the surrounding dense clumps of gas and dust.
Herschel’s observations have shown that it already contains at least eight times the mass of our Sun, and that it is still surrounded by an additional 2000 solar masses of gas and dust from which it can feed further.
Not all of the material will fall onto the star, however, as some will be blasted away by the intense radiation emitted by the star. Some stars reach an impressive 150 solar masses, but just how large this stellar embryo will grow remains to be seen.
This week, scientists will not only discuss star formation, but also what the Herschel space observatory has revealed about planetary system evolution, galaxy formation, the interstellar medium and more. A full programme can be found here.
Herschel was launched on 14 May 2009 and completed science observations on 29 April 2013.
Rating: 4.44 /5 ( 9 votes cast)
Thank you for rating!
You have already rated this page, you can only rate it once!
Your rating has been changed, thanks for rating!
Herschel closes its eyes on the Universe 29 April 2013 ESA’s Herschel space observatory has exhausted its supply of liquid helium coolant, ending more than three years of pioneering observations of the cool Universe.
Hunting high-mass stars with Herschel 27 March 2013 In this new view of a vast star-forming cloud called W3, ESA’s Herschel space observatory tells the story of how massive stars are born.
Herschel reveals the hidden side of star birth 06 May 2010 ESA PR 09-2010. The first scientific results from ESA’s Herschel infrared space observatory are revealing previously hidden details of star formation. New images show thousands of distant galaxies furiously building stars and beautiful star-forming cl...