April 20, 2014

30.05.10: The Faces of Gum 19.

Wide and narrow field views of the Gum 19 region.

Wide and narrow field views of the Gum 19 region.

(Credit: ESO/Sofia/Digitized Sky Survey).

   Take a look at the Nebula pictured above. This is the current visual state of affairs of the nebula known as Gum 19, 22,000 light-years distant in the southern constellation Vela. This rich star forming region is pictured in the Digitized Sky Survey above, and the seemingly non-descript Gum 19 Nebula is perched towards center. Using a an infra-red spectrograph known as Sofia coupled to ESO’s New Technology Telescope, astronomers were able to capture Gum 19 as never before. The nebula itself seems to be canted about 90 degrees to our line of sight, hence its two-faced, dark/light appearance. Gum 19 also houses a monster; a supergiant blue star known as V391 Velorum. This tempestuous star illuminates its nebulous surroundings, and has a surface temperature of 50,000°F. Such a beast is not destined to last for long; blue giants typically go supernova within a 10 million year time span. Will V391 be the next visual supernova in our galaxy to pop? Whatever is the case, enjoy the above ESO provided view while you can!

Astro-Event of the Week: 05.18.09: Spot a Hubble Classic!

Eagle Nebula.

A close up shot of one of the pillars. (Credit: APOD/NASA/Hubble Hertitage Team/STS.I/AURA). 

As all eyes are now in orbit following the intrepid crew of the shuttle Atlantis as they carry out the final repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope, now is a good time to track down one of its classic targets. One of Hubble’s most enduring photographs is that of the Eagle Nebula. Our challenge to you is to try and spy this illusive nebula. A broad, emission nebula in the constellation Serpens, this also has the multiple designations of M16 in the messier catalog and NGC 6611. Many folks, even seasoned amateurs, have never viewed this extraordinary object. [Read more...]