Imaged Above: NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observed a fledgling solar system like the one depicted in this artist’s concept. New computer simulations at the University of Chicago show that turbulence lofts dust particles above the illuminated portion of the cloud, where they become exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light from nearby stars. UV irradiation was a key component in the production of complex organic molecules in the early solar system. [Credit: Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech]
Mar. 30, 2012 — Complex organic compounds, including many important to life on Earth, were readily produced under conditions that likely prevailed in the primordial solar system. Scientists at the University of Chicago and NASA Ames Research Center came to this conclusion after linking computer simulations to laboratory experiments.
Fred Ciesla, assistant professor in geophysical sciences at UChicago, simulated the dynamics of the solar nebula, the cloud of gas and dust from which the sun and the planets formed. Although every dust particle within the nebula behaved differently, they all experienced the conditions needed for organics to form over a simulated million-year period… [Continue Reading]
Explore a beautiful and complex region of nebulae strewn along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy in this widefield skyscape. The image emphasizes cosmic gas clouds in a 25 by 25 degree view centered on the Northern Cross, the famous asterism in the constellation Cygnus.
A stunning new image of the Carina nebula reveals cold, dusty cosmic clouds where violent and dynamic star formation is taking place.
These clouds of dust and gas play host to some of the most massive and luminous stars in our galaxy, which make them scintillating test beds for studying the interactions between these young stars and their parent molecular clouds.
The new observations were made with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope, which is located about 16,700 feet (5,100 meters) above sea level at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert in northern Chile.
A team of astronomers led by Thomas Preibisch, from the University Observatory Munich in Germany, captured images of the star-forming region in the Carina nebula in submillimeter light. At this wavelength, most of the light that can be seen is the weak heat glow from grains of cosmic dust, the researchers said.
Located in the constellation of Scorpius, the Cat’s Paw Nebula resembles a faint, luminous paw-print on the sky. Deep images reveal that the nebula is about a degree across in the sky. It is a truly vast structure spanning almost 100 light-years across. The sculpted gases of NGC 6334 are illuminated by the light of numerous powerful stars, some exceeding 10 solar masses. Many of these luminous hot stars are surprisingly not visible because they lie within the dusty plane of our galaxy.
These nebula are located in the constellation of Cygnus, about 5 degrees east of Deneb. The North American Nebula (left) is a very large area of emission nebulosity with a maximum extension of 3 degrees. It was discovered in the early 1890s by Max Wolf in Heidelberg on the first “modern” long-exposure, wide-field photographs of the region. It is easier to photograph than to see well, although with large binoculars or low-power rich-field telescopes the “continental” shape can be traced out reasonably well, especially the “Gulf of Mexico”.