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Hubble Space Telescope Spotted a Festive Glowing Red Nebula

Dec 23, 2016 05:19 AM EST
(FILE PHOTO) NASA To Repair Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope spotted a festive nebula in a nearby dwarf galaxy.
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is still providing scientists with an unprecendented and mesmerizing view of space. Recently, Hubble captured a festive looking nebula with a distinctively red glow.

The telescope spotted two of these nebulas that appears to be as one. The red festive nebulas are located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy known as a satellite of the Milky Way. The Small Magellanic Cloud is part of the Andromeda Galaxy group where the Milky Way is also a part of, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Experts say that their festive glow could be attributed to the heated hydrogen from each of the nebulas resulting to a vivid red glow. The standout nebulas are known as NGC 248 discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834.

The festive nebula is 60 light-years long and 20 light-years wide. Surprisingly, the said satellite galaxy has more of these festive glowing nebulas in the region. NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope managed to spot the nebulas at about 200,000 light-years away from constellation Tucana.

The festive glow is being studied not only because of its striking aesthetics. It is actually detected as part of the Small Magellanic Cloud Investigation of Dus and Gas Evolution (SMIDGE). Dust and clouds have the potential to influence the appearance of nebulas and astronomers are looking into the role performed by them in galaxies with a lower supply of elements for dust production.

Despite the distance of the nebula from Earth, the neighboring small galaxy enables Hubble Space Telescope to study the region. "It is important to understanding the history of our own galaxy, too," study's principal investigator, Dr. Karin Sandstrom of the University of California, San Diego said in a press release. "Most of the star formation happened earlier in the universe, at a time where there was a much lower percentage of heavy elements than there is now. Dust is a really critical part of how a galaxy works, how it forms stars," Sandstrom added.

Hubble Space Telescope has been delivering information to scientists since it was launched in 1990, according to NASA.


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