The Hubble Telescope gives us a dazzling ‘snow globe’ of stars just in time for the holidays

By | December 22, 2023

‘Tis the season for twinkling lights, both near you and deep in space. To celebrate the holidays, NASA has published this composite imagethat resembles a wonderland of Christmas lights – or perhaps a colorful snow globe.

The subject of the image is the billion-star UGC 8091, an irregular dwarf universe located within the Zodiac sign Virgoabout 7 million light years by Soil. To create the luminous, chromatic effect we see, scientists collected data captured by the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 and Advance Camera for surveys between 2006 and 2021.

They ran the data through twelve filters that sampled both broad and narrow wavelengths, from mid-ultraviolet to visible red light; The red spots are thought to be interstellar hydrogen molecules, while the ‘sparkles’ inside are older stars. In the far background are other distant galaxies, so far away that they appear almost singular stars.

Related: Watch the ‘Christmas Tree Cluster’ Twinkle in X-rays (Video)

Image 1 of 3

A collection of stars and galaxies fill the scene against a dark background.  The image is dominated by a dense collection of stars that make up the irregular galaxy UGC 8091.  The stars span a variety of colors, including blue and orange, with blue spots occupying the central part of the galaxy.  There are also visible circular regions of red/pink gas in the Milky Way.

Image 2 of 3

A field of galaxies on the black background of space.  In the center, stretching from left to right, is a collection of dozens of yellowish spiral and elliptical galaxies that form a cluster of galaxies in the foreground.  They form a rough, flat line down the center.  These include distorted linear features, which usually appear to follow invisible concentric circles that curve around the center of the image.  The linear features arise when light from a background galaxy is bent and magnified through gravitational lensing.  At center left, a particularly prominent example extends vertically about three times the length of a nearby galaxy.  A variety of brightly colored, red and blue galaxies of different shapes are scattered across the image, making it feel densely populated.  Near the center are two small galaxies compared to the cluster of galaxies: a very red spiral on the side and a very blue spiral on the side, providing a striking color contrast.A field of galaxies on the black background of space.  In the center, stretching from left to right, is a collection of dozens of yellowish spiral and elliptical galaxies that form a cluster of galaxies in the foreground.  They form a rough, flat line down the center.  These include distorted linear features, which usually appear to follow invisible concentric circles that curve around the center of the image.  The linear features arise when the light from a background galaxy is bent and magnified through gravitational lensing.  At center left, a particularly prominent example extends vertically about three times the length of a nearby galaxy.  A variety of brightly colored, red and blue galaxies of different shapes are scattered across the image, making it feel densely populated.  Near the center are two small galaxies compared to the cluster of galaxies: a very red spiral on the side and a very blue spiral on the side, providing a striking color contrast.

Image 3 of 3

Cassiopeia A, a circular cloud of gas and dust with a complex structure.  The inner shell is made of bright pink and orange filaments dotted with lumps and knots that look like small pieces of broken glass.  Around the outside of the inner shell, especially the top right, are curtains of wispy gas that resembles campfire smoke.  The white smoke-like material also appears to fill the cavity of the inner shell, with structures shaped like large bubbles.  Several stars can be seen around and in the nebula as points of blue and white light.  Outside the nebula are also clumps of yellow dust, with a particularly large clump in the lower right that appears to have very detailed stripes.Cassiopeia A, a circular cloud of gas and dust with a complex structure.  The inner shell is made of bright pink and orange filaments dotted with lumps and knots that look like small pieces of broken glass.  Around the outside of the inner shell, especially the top right, are curtains of wispy gas that resembles campfire smoke.  The white smoke-like material also appears to fill the cavity of the inner shell, with structures shaped like large bubbles.  Several stars can be seen around and in the nebula as points of blue and white light.  Outside the nebula are also clumps of yellow dust, with a particularly large clump in the lower right that appears to have very detailed stripes.

This Hubble image isn’t the only Christmas-themed image room this year. In November, scientists used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to study what they dubbed the Christmas Tree Galaxy Cluster“both because it is so colorful and because of the flickering lights we find in it,” said Haojing Yan, lead scientist of the team from the University of Missouri. said in a statement. Looking at an image of the cluster, also known as MACS0416, it is an apt name. In fact the Chandra X-ray Observatory recently studied this month also his own cosmic Christmas tree.

Related stories:

— Newly discovered galaxies are ‘pristine fossils from the early universe’
– Peek a boo! Strange little galaxy offers a glimpse into the early history of the universe
— Dark energy reveals galaxies caught in a cosmic ‘tug of war’

And just a few weeks ago, NASA published an image of it supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A), taken by Webb’s NIRCam, which has been likened to a Christmas bauble. That image made it the very first White House Advent Calendar. “With NIRCam’s resolution, we can now see how the dying star absolutely shattered when it exploded, leaving behind filaments that looked like tiny pieces of glass,” said Danny Milisavljevic of Purdue University, leader of the research team studying Cas A. said in a statement. “It’s truly incredible that after all these years of studying Cas A, we are now solving those details, which are giving us transformative insight into how this star exploded.”

Frankly, we think that seeing shapes in images from space telescopes, Christmas-related or otherwise, is like seeing shapes in clouds: it’s all open to artistic interpretation. But there’s no denying that the images are beautiful, no matter how they appear.

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