Hubble Telescope Images the Bubble Nebula
Posted on May 15, 2016
The Hubble Space Telescope captured an enormous bubble being inflated by a super-hot, massive star. The bubble-like feature is called the Bubble Nebula or NGC 7635. The image was chosen the mark Hubble's recent 26th anniversary. Hubble was launched into Earth orbit by the STS-31 space shuttle crew on April 24, 1990.
The Bubble Nebula is seven light-years across and is about 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. The star forming the nebula (BD +60º2522) is 45 times more massive than our sun. Gas on the star gets so hot that it escapes into space as a stellar wind moving at over four million miles per hour. The wind sweeps up the cold, interstellar gas in front of it, forming the outer edge of the bubble.
John Grunsfeld, Hubble astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, says in a statement, "As Hubble makes its 26th revolution around our home star, the sun, we celebrate the event with a spectacular image of a dynamic and exciting interaction of a young star with its environment. The view of the Bubble Nebula, crafted from WFC-3 images, reminds us that Hubble gives us a front row seat to the awe inspiring universe we live in."
The Bubble Nebula was first discovered in 1787 by British astronomer William Herschel. Hubble's Wide Field Camera-3 imaged the Bubble Nebula in visible light in February 2016. The colors correspond to blue for oxygen, green for hydrogen, and red for nitrogen. You can view hi-res versions of the image here on the Hubble Site. Here is an zoom-in animation:
Photo: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
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