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Starbirth in M33

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Starbirth in M33
Jun 29, 2006 // // Origins
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Starbirth in M33

Even in ordinary galaxies which are not undergoing a starburst these are likely to be regions in which there is a great deal of star-forming activity. One of these regions, a nebula known as NGC 604, is pictured here in an image from the HST. NGC 604 lies in the outer regions of the disk of an ordinary spiral galaxy (very similar to the Milky Way) called M33. M33 is just 2.7 million light years away from us, in the direction of the constellation Trangulum.

There are at least 200 hot young stars at the heart of NGC 604, each of them with a mass between twenty-five to sixty times the mass of our Sun, plus (it is assumed) many smaller stars. The energy from these stars is absorbed by the gas in the nebula, which glows as the energy it has absorbed is radiated. This image strikingly reveals the three-dimensional structure of the nebula, with cavernous holes in the cloud made by the pressure of the energy being radiated by the stars inside it, pushing the material away into space. Eventually, the cloud will disperse and the stars will settle down as an open cluster.

The Deep Mystery of Space
Jun 29, 2006 // // Origins
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The Deep Mystery of God
By Michael McCauley

The Hubble telescope recently peered as deep into space as humans have ever looked. Officials of the Space Telescope Science Institute traced light that has been speeding toward the space we now occupy for 13 billion years, to “within a stone’s throw of the beginning of the universe.” In order to penetrate to this distance Hubble had to narrow its view to a field that astronomers likened to our looking at the sky through an eight-foot soda straw. The opening on the eye-side is small enough, but projected eight feet out, it narrows to little more than a pinhole. In this minute field of view a speck of the whole dome of the sky, Hubble saw 10,000 galaxies like our own vast Milky Way.

From a human point of view the enormity of these dimensions of time and space is bewildering, almost absurd. Five hundred years ago we postured ourselves at the center of the universe; now we cling precariously to a remote speck of cosmic dust. Our life-dominant sun is one mediocre star among the myriad that, by the late Carl Sagan’s estimate, outnumber the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world.



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