NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has taken an incredibly fantastic image of a couple of nebulae holding the star clusters Cepheus B and Cepheus C. Most of the image depicts the primary nebula, which is a cloud of gas and dust that is showing in green and orange. The lively red area in the upper side of the image is the peak of the nebula, where bright stars emit radiation which warms the dust and produces a glow.
Spitzer Space Telescope captured young, mid-aged, and ancient stars on the image
These shiny, enormous cosmic objects are a part of a star cluster which expands further than the borders of the picture. This area is the remaining part of a bigger cloud which has been reduced with time with radiation from stars.
The picture depicts a second, smaller nebula that can be seen on the right side of the image. The array of pink and white light in the bottom right of the picture is a young nebula which carries a ‘runaway star’ with it. That ‘runaway star’ is the nuanced blue object with a red bow around, found in the middle-right part of the image. The red arc is a shock wave created by the cosmic object traveling through the nebula with incredible speed, producing an arc of matter in front of it.
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope also snapped a stellar nursery with young stars
There is another detail visible on the middle-left of the image, namely a ring of darker color in the nebula. That region is known as Cepheus C, and it is a compressed area of dust and gas which has the role of a stellar nursery. Stars are quickly born in this region because of the density of elements which enables them to take shape.
As these stars grow, they generate winds that push away the close dust, producing more cavities of compressed elements. This process is what designs the interesting shapes of the nebula. Ultimately, when the dust disappears, the stars continue living in their arrays, just like those in the upper part of the image, which represents Cepheus B.
The image is merged data from two different tools of the Spitzer Space Telescope – Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) and the Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS).
Dee Mongo is a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto and has written for Maclean’s, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post. In her spare time, she plays AC/DC on the ukulele and does psychic readings for B-grade celebrities. Dee is our tech/finance correspondent.