NASA astronomers have recently discovered cosmic dust that holds the ingredients for star birth throughout the universe. According to a press note, NASA Hubble Space Telescope has photographed a concentration of elements that are responsible for the formation of stars in our galaxy and throughout the universe. The US space agency informed that the opaque, dark knots of gas and dust, that can be seen in the picture, are called ‘Bok globules’.
This cosmic dust holds the ingredients for starbirth. ✨— Hubble (@NASAHubble) February 2, 2021
The dark knots of gas and dust in this #HubbleClassic image are Bok globules, which are concentrations of elements that are responsible for star creation, though not all globules will form stars: https://t.co/6Pcb58NdAe pic.twitter.com/9RcIMWuzyo
The ‘Bok globules’ absorbs the light in the centre of the nearby emission nebula and star-forming region, NGC-281. NASA said that the globules are named after astronomer Bart Bok, who proposed their existence in the 1940s. The gobbles also can become perturbed and form small pockets where the dust and gas are highly concentrated.
The small pockets then become gravitationally bound and accumulate dust and gas from the surrounding area. If they can capture enough mass, they have the potential of creating stars in their corers, however, not all Bok globules will form stars, NASA explained. Further, near the globules are bright blue stars, members of the young open cluster IC 1590.
The US space agency said that the cluster is made up of a few hundred stars and the cluster’s core, off the image towards the top, is a tight grouping of extremely hot, massive stars with an immense stellar wind. The stars emit visible and ultraviolet light that energises the surrounding hydrogen gas in NGC 281. This gas then becomes superheated in a process called ionization, and it glows pink in the image, the press note read.
NASA said, “The Bok globules in NGC 281 are located very close to the center of the IC 1590 cluster. The exquisite resolution of these Hubble observations shows the jagged structure of the dust clouds as if they are being stripped apart from the outside. The heavy fracturing of the globules may appear beautifully serene but is in fact evident of the harsh, violent environment created by the nearby massive stars”.
Nonetheless, the Bok globules in NGC 281 are visually striking. They are silhouetted against the luminous pink hydrogen gas of the emission nebula, creating a stark visual contrast. The task knots, on the other hand, are opaque in visual light and conversely, the nebulous gas surrounding the globules is transparent and allows light from background stars and even background galaxies to shine through. Further, NASA informed that the image was taken with Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys in October 2005.
“The hydrogen-emission image that clearly shows the outline of the dark globules was combined with images taken in red, blue, and green light in order to help establish the true color of the stars in the field. NGC 281 is located nearly 9,500 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia,” NASA said.