STATES CHRONICLE – The launch of the Hubble telescope is, without a shadow of doubt, one of the most important achievements in human history. The amount of information we’ve managed to gather thanks to the Hubble alone, without even taking into account all the other telescopes that were built based on its design, is enough to rival any other scientific field.
So of course, the people behind it feel no small measure of pride. In fact, every year the occasion is celebrated with a beautifully unique picture captured by the telescope, as scientists spend a decent amount of time every year making sure that they take the perfect picture.
And this year’s surprise is one of the best yet, as the Hubble takes picture of Bubble Nebula for 26th birthday. In one of the impressive shots of the wonders of outer space, the NASA and ESA joint project delighted us with majestic nebula that researchers are still mostly struggling to understand.
But what is this Bubble Nebula and why is it so impressive? Also known as NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula is situated some 8,000 light years away, inside the Cassiopeia constellation. Even though it has repeatedly drawn NASA’s and ESA’s attention before, this is the first time a full-size photograph was taken of the Nebula, seeing as it takes up a huge swath of the sky.
In fact, the entire nebula is somewhere around ten light years in diameter. The team had to take four stills of the nebula and to unite them all in a mosaic of sorts using the Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 in order to be able to fit the entire object in a single picture.
The picture can leave you in awe at the apparent perfection of the universe, as the nebula looks like it’s covered in a nearly spherical purple shell. The nigh-spherical aspect of the nebula is what gave it its name, and it is owed to the very powerful solar winds emanating from a star located inside it.
Known as SAO 20575, the star is between ten to twenty times as large as our sun, and it causes the bubble around it by pushing its surrounding interstellar material outwards with its solar winds. It is currently expanding by a huge speed, of around 1,000 kilometers per hour. Oh, and the purple lighting is caused by the ultraviolet radiation coming from SAO 20575.
But the thing that has the scientists most baffled is the fact that the star isn’t even at the center of the nebula. In fact, it is nowhere near the center, and yet the nebula still forms an almost perfect circle around it. Researchers will keep looking into it in the hopes of finding any clues regarding the strange occurrence.
Image source: Washington Post