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Hubble Spots 2 Stunning Pink Nebulae Conjoined as One

Dec 21, 2016 08:03 AM EST
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NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured two stunning nebulae within a small satellite galaxy about 200,000 light years away.

According to Hubble's official website, the two festive-looking emission nebulae were conjoined so they appear as one. Known together as NGC 248, the intense radiation from the brilliant central stars is making the hydrogen in the nebulae to glow in brilliant pink.

Located within the Small Magellanic Clouds, NGC 248 is about 60 light years long and 20 light years wide. The nebulae were first discovered by the astronomer Sir John Hershel in 1934. NGC 248 is one of the many glowing hydrogen nebulae in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy that lies in the southern constellation of Tucana, about 200,000 light years away.

The image of the stunning nebulae was taken using the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. It was observed as part of the Small Magellanic cloud Investigation of Dust and Gas Evolution (SMIDGE) survey, according to a press release.

During the SMIDGE survey, astronomers used the visual prowess of Hubble to look into the Small Magellanic Cloud. By studying the dust in the Small Magellanic Cloud, astronomers could determine the difference between satellite galaxies, such as the Small Magellanic Cloud and massive galaxies, such as the Milky Way.

The relative proximity of the Small Magellanic Cloud makes it a valuable target for studies. This satellite galaxy seem to have dust similar to what is expected to exist in the galaxies during the earlier Universe, only between a fifth and a tenth of the amount of heavy elements that the Milky Way has.

Due to this, astronomers are using the Small Magellanic Cloud as a cosmic laboratory to study the history of the Universe. Astronomers noted that during the star formation in the early Universe, the percentage of heavy elements in the Milky Way was much lower to than it is now. And, by observing satellite galaxies with similar low amount of heavy elements as to early Milky Way, astronomers could better understand the history of our own galaxy.

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