Incredible photo from deep space shows starry region bursting with BUBBLES
- Images taken from the final days of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope
- A team of more than 78,000 civilian volunteers helped analyze the imagery
- The bubbles hint at thousands of new stars in the Milky Way’s Aquila region
You can always divine the presence of a star by observing its effect on its surroundings.
On Earth, stars have magnetic power, drawing lovelorn gazes from afar. In space repulsion is the true sign of a star, observable in the blooming bubbles of dust and gas blown by stellar winds that signal a newborn must be near.
A new image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reveals the Milky Way’s Aquila region to be a bustling field of stars sending bubbly bursts of dust and gas out in colorful bursts.
The Aquila region in the Milky Way is filled with signs of new star formation
The image was analyzed by volunteers from The Milky Way Project, a group of civilian observers from all walks of life who help sort through the enormous volume of imagery transmitted from the Spitzer.
More than 78,000 unique user accounts helped to identify 2,600 bubbles and 599 bowshocks, which results when matter blown by different bubbles come into contact.
While the bubbles revealed in the photo appear to be just a few inches across, they span anywhere between 10 and 30 light years, indicating the bubbles have been blown not by a single star but thousands.
The yellow ovals indicate expanding bubbles and the red squares show bowshocks caused by interactions between matter blown by stellar winds
The image marks the rapidly approaching endpoint for the Spitzer Telescope’s mission, which concludes in January, 2020.
Launched in 2003, the Spitzer Space Telescope was the last of four telescopes sent to space under NASA’s Great Observatories program. (The first, and most famous, was the Hubble Space Telescope.)
The Spitzer Telescope’s mission was to observe infrared light that would unobservable be on Earth as it’s filtered out by our atmosphere.
In an interview with Spaceflight Now, NASA’s Lisa Storrie-Lombardi said that having access to imagery of the once invisible infrared light has enabled ‘groundbreaking advances in our understanding of planetary systems around other stars, the evolution of galaxies in the nearby and distant universe, the structure of our Milky Way galaxy, the infinite variety in the lives of stars, and the constituents of our solar system.’
A close-up of a cloud of gas, estimated to be between 10 and 30 light years across