Wednesday, 4 September 2013

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day – 4 September 2013

The image of a far-away caterpillar-shaped cloud captured by the IPHAS Survey on the Hubble Space Telescope is today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day!  And somewhere inside this interstellar cloud, a new star is forming!
IRAS 20324: Evaporating Protostar
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and IPHAS
This strangely-shaped, seething mass of gas and dust is known as IRAS 20324.  And is the subject of a study of a group of international astronomers being led by Professor Janet Drew and Dr Nick Wright from the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Astrophysics Research (CAR) as part of the IPHAS Survey (INT Photometric H-Alpha Survey).

At about 4,500 light years away from us in the star constellation of Cygnus, this interstellar cloud is about one light year across.  Take a trip across the sky with this video as it zooms in on this caterpillar-shaped collection of dust and gas.

What the star will look like once all the dust has settled, no one knows. But with energetic winds and light wearing away the dust and gas that may have formed the star, we’ll have to wait and see….but that may take another 100,000 years!  And that’s a long time to wait!

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