Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nebulae: Art of the Cosmos

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The art of the cosmos. First I'd like to say is that all the pictures below are actually real. None of them are fake, and are all taken from observatories and NASA. Indeed, these beautiful wisps of color and detail are things no human could create. But what are they? All of these pictures seem random or maybe even computer generated...does anything really look like this in outer space? Yes! Nebulae are a form of interstellar medium, which is matter usually in the form of gases in ionic, atomic, and molecular forms, and often including dust and cosmic rays. Interstellar media fill interstellar space and blends smoothly into the surrounding intergalactic space. This interstellar medium can collapse from gravitational forces, bursting into nebulae like these. The pretty colors look like this because these various gases are so hot, making them glow, surviving in this state for thousands of years.
What makes these nebulae so interesting is more the fact that they are believe to eventually gather more gases and dust and rays into themselves, where so much matter is slowly compressed that they burst into a fusion reaction, and a star is born. This is one of the most realistic ways astronomers believe stars are born, but who will ever be able to know for sure? This process takes thousands of years. Much of the reason behind this is the marvelous complexity of the cosmos, where a nebula can give birth to a star, but also that nebulae are formed from stars that collapsed, where the supernova leaves remnants of exploded star matter over a wide range, painting a gorgeous scene of amazing detail that we see as a nebula, and someday form again into a star. This idea is so attractive since it takes care to include the universe's tendency cycle birth, death, and rebirth.
These nebulae are hot, too. In fact, some nebulae are as hot as 12,140.33 F since they contain thousands of particles per centimeter, making them surprisingly dense for mere clouds. It is precisely this heat that excites the matter inside them. Or rather, the word "inside" is inappropriate, since nebulae aren't even objects, but rather are collections of objects. The particles which form atoms and atom into substances that we on Earth and can use, well nebulae keep them broken down due to the heat, making the particles glow in vibrant colors visible to optical wavelengths. In other words their heat makes them very easy to see, some even are so large and bright that they are as easy to see as our Sun, but appear small in the sky since they are so incredibly far away. Below is a collection of pictures I gathered up from NASA.GOV. These are some of my favorite nebulae since they are so vibrant and colorful! I hope you enjoyed this simple article, especially since most of my other articles are so heavy!


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, they are mostly from the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA. Check for other wild images and news in astronomy