Happy Valentine's Day from Spitzer Space Telescope! This image is of a region called W5, part of a bigger complex of gas and dust shining 6000 light years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia. The resemblance to a Valentine is remarkable!
What you're actually seeing here is an enormous star-forming factory 150 light years across. Deep in its (haha) heart massive, hot, and bright stars are being born. When they switch on for the first time, they blast out a flood of ultraviolet light as well as a fierce wind of subatomic particles. These eat away at the cloud from the inside-out, forming an enormous cavity. It's the edges of this cavity that form the cosmic valentine.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Valentine's Day...in Space
Bad Astronomy, which never disappoints and should be on your blogroll: