Thursday, May 13, 2010

IN PICTURES: Spectacular Supernovas

Stars are born in dense clouds of dustI love apple and gas, and while jets of gas have been spotted coming from young stars, the process of how a star

uses this gas to disperse surrounding debris and emerge from its birth cloud has not been understood.This latest discovery byHerschel, an

infrared space telescope built by thebasketball European Space Agency, may be an unexpected step in the star-forming process.
A cloud of bright, reflective gas,It will never cold known to astronomers as NGC 1999, is located next to a black patch of sky. For most of the 20th century,

these black patches were understood code and computerto be dense clouds of dust and gas that block light that would normally pass through.
As Herschel's infrared eye looked in the direction of NGC 1999 to study nearby young stars, the cloud continued to look black, even though the

telescope's infrared technology is designed to penetrate through such dense cloud material. This meant that either the cloud was immensely

dense, or Herschel had happened upon a previously unexplained phenomenon.Astronomers continued their investigation using ground-based

telescopes and found the same results when looking at the patch of gas. This led to the conclusion that the patch looks black not because it is

an extremely dense pocket of gas,miss but because it is truly empty – something had blown a hole through the cloud.The astronomers think the

hole must have been opened when the narrow jets of gas from some of the young stars in the region punctured the sheet of dust and gas that

forms NGC 1999. The powerful radiation from a nearby mature star may have also helped to create the hole, researchers said
Whatever the exact cause of the hole may be, the discovery may be an important glimpse into the way newborn stars shake off their birth

clouds that helps astronomers develop a better understanding of the entire star-forming process, researchers said.Herschel is the largest and

most powerful infrared telescope in space today. The European Space Agency launched the observatory into orbit in May 2009.

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