Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have produced an outstanding infrared image of the star-forming region NGC 2174.
NGC 2174 is located approximately 6,400 light-years away in the constellation of Orion.
Also known as the Monkey Head Nebula, the object is a violent stellar nursery.
It is filled with young stars embedded within bright wisps of cosmic gas and dust.
“Some of the clouds in the region resemble the face of a monkey in visible-light images, hence the nebula’s nickname: the Monkey Head,” Spitzer astronomers explained.
“However, in infrared images such as this, the monkey disappears.”
“That’s because different clouds are highlighted in infrared and visible-light images.”
“Columns of dust, slightly to the right of center in the image, are being carved out of the dust by radiation and stellar winds from the hottest young stars recently born in the area.”
The new infrared image of NGC 2174 provides astronomers with a preview of the next clusters of stars that will be born in the coming millennia.
“The reddish spots of light scattered through the darker filaments are infant stars swaddled by blankets of warm dust,” the researchers said.
“The warm dust glows brightly at infrared wavelengths.”
“Eventually, these stars will pop out of their dusty envelopes and their light will carve away at the dust clouds surrounding them.”
“In this image, infrared wavelengths have been assigned visible colors we see with our eyes,” they added.
“Light with a wavelength of 3.5 microns is shown in blue, 8.0 microns is green, and 24 microns in red.”
“The greens show the organic molecules in the dust clouds, illuminated by starlight.”
“Reds are caused by the thermal radiation emitted from the very hottest areas of dust.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/spitzer-infant-stars-ngc-2174-10460.html