Saturday, April 19, 2008

M-7 and M-8

This is M-7, Ptolomy's Cluster. It's called that because Ptolomy described it in 130 A.D. He called it a nebula, but with a telescope you can see that it is made of stars. Nebulas also have dust and gases. They look like smudged sky.

This is a nebula. Well, actually it's a nebula and a star cluster, too. There's an It's M-8, the Lagoon Nebula. It is visible to the naked eye... but it doesn't look like this. It just looks like a grey smudge. And in time lapse photos, it looks red. But Hubble makes some pretty pictures, and these two shots of it are beautiful. The colors are produced by using special filters on the image to show different gases as different colors.

This picture is also of M-8, and it shows how the gases are twisting and mixing. See how right where it's brightest, there are those shapes that look just like tornados? Those are tornados. Well, space tornados. That sounds really silly doesn't it? What's going on in the picture is that some areas of the nebula are hotter than others. The outsides of the clouds (where the light hits it) gets hot. The shaded interior stays cool. The difference in temperature means the same thing in outer space that it does on Earth. The gases shift around. So there's a wind. And tornados. Space tornados. And you thought this was gonna be boring!


kath said...

Amazing space photos! Interesting hobby you have ! :)

Maggie said...

Wow beautiful pictures!!