Image Credit & Copyright: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) and NAOJ
Here’s an image released a couple years back of the beautifully violent Sharpless 2-106 or S106 for short. This is a team effort, combining Hubble space telescope data with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) Subaru telescope’s wide field imagery atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
What you’re seeing in this image is a star being born, well, that term is relative because 100,000 years ago is very long for you and me but it’s a mere infant in the maternity warn to the universe. The area itself is what’s called a bipolar emission nebula & compact HII star forming region. The star being born is cataloged as S106IR or Infrared Source 4 (IR4) and it’s believed to be, as I just stated; about 100,000 years old with a mass of 15 Suns and shines 10,000 times brighter.
This star, like all stars began its life as a molecular cloud that began to condense and accrete which gave the immediate region a slow spin or rotation (Everything in the universe rotates and is moving). That process led to contraction and heating which eventually, through building up enough mass led to massive pressures and temperatures until the laws of physics permitted thermonuclear fusion to begin. The star came to life in a flash, its rotation, magnetic field and massive stellar radiation immediately began to carve out and illuminate the two caverns that we see in this image.
The star itself is unseen in this light as it’s still shrouded in a thick ring of material but just look at those lobes. Imagine being one of the hundreds of brown dwarf stars within this structure that weren’t given enough time to accrete and heat to become stars themselves. Imagine being in that void on the right, really attempt to imagine how vast that wall is. That “wall” is a light year long and a half a light year high. Voyager 1 has been traveling since 1977 and it’s left the solar system and as we speak it’s about 18 light hours away. There are 8,766 hours in a year……that cavern on the right is a light year-long by half a light year wide……I find that just amazing beyond words.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you want more information and image choices hit the links below and go wild! Please feel free to let me know what you think as comments are always welcome and if you wish follow me on my blog DanSpace77.com and Twitter @DanSpace77.
NAME: Sh2-106, S106, Sharpless 2-106.
WHAT IS IT?: Bipolar emission nebula & compact HII Star forming region. Shrouded star S106IR has come to life and its stellar winds are clearing a cavity in the material it was born into.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: About 2000 light years or 600 parsecs.
HOW BIG IS IT?: About 2 light years long and 0.5 light years wide.
HOW OLD IS IT?: Approximately 100,000 years.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: ?
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Cygnus (The Swan).
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA R.A. 20h 27m 27s 10 / DEC +37° 22′ 39″.
ESA Space Telescope page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1118b/
NASA Hubblesite News Center page for this image: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2011/38/image/b/
Hubble Heritage Project page for this image: http://heritage.stsci.edu/2011/38/
NASA page for this image: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/snow-angel.html
NAOJ Subaru Telescope: http://www.naoj.org/
SIMBAD data page for this object: http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad/sim-id?Ident=Sh+2-106