Friday, 4 January 2013

The Beauty of Cosmos

The universe is an amazingly beautiful place. Although to the unaided eye it appears mostly black with a sprinkle of stars and perhaps a foggy band of the Milky Way, photography reveals the true colours and dynamics of space. The glowing clouds of gas, dark streaks of interstellar dust, cosmic landscapes sculpted by stellar wind and supernova shockwaves, all this and much more becomes visible thanks to modern technology.

One such beautiful vista is the nebula NGC 6188, featured in the Astronomy Picture of the Day for Dec 28 2012:

This emission is found near the edge of a large molecular cloud unseen at visible wavelengths, in the southern constellation Ara. Massive, young stars were formed in that region only a few million years ago, sculpting the dark shapes and powering the nebular glow with stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. The recent star formation itself was likely triggered by winds and supernova explosions, from previous generations of massive stars, that swept up and compressed the molecular gas.

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