NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 4 February 2023: A nebula-3200 light years away

Nebula is nothing but the beginning of a star! How? NASA explains that Nebulae are composed of dust and gaseous matter, primarily hydrogen and helium. Despite being dispersed, gravity can cause clumps of dust and gas to converge over time, leading to increased gravitational pull. Once these clumps become substantial, they collapse under their own gravity, heating up the central material and forming the beginnings of a star.

Today’s NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is NGC 2626, a beautiful, bright, blue reflection nebula in the southern Milky Way which is centered in this colourful cosmic canvas. NGC 2626 is located near a dusty cloud and encircled by reddish hydrogen emissions from the H II region RCW 27. It is part of a group of dusty molecular clouds called the Vela Molecular Ridge. The nebula is composed of interstellar dust that reflects the blue light from a young, hot, embedded star.

However, several other astronomical explorations reveal that many other young stars and associated nebulae in the star-forming region. NGC 2626 lies approximately 3200 light-years distant, with a telescopic field of view spanning approximately 30 light-years within the Vela Molecular Ridge.

How do scientists detect Nebulae?

“Astronomers observe distant nebulae through the lens of highly advanced telescopes. For instance, NASA’s Spitzer and the newest Hubble Space Telescopes have captured numerous images of nebulae located far in space.”

Do you know?

Some Nebulae are also known as “star nurseries” because of the reason that nebulae are regions where new stars begin to form. Nebulae can result from the gas and dust expelled during the explosion of a dying star, such as in a supernova.

The nearest known nebula to Earth is the Helix Nebula which is believed to be the remnant of a star similar to the Sun and is located approximately 700 light-years away. That means even if you manage to travel at the speed of light, it will still take 700 years to reach the Helix nebula!

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