This week’s Hubble picture reveals the attractive rosy glow of a dusty spiral galaxy where stars are being born. The galaxy is known as NGC 972, and it was found in 1784 by William Herschel. It’s situated in the constellation of Aries, 71 million light-years away from Earth.
Cosmic dust is the particulate matter that floats around in space, in this case, known as interstellar dust because it exists between stars. Other kinds of cosmic dust are mud rings around planets, known as circumplanetary dust, in addition to interstellar dust and interplanetary dust. In our Solar System, it’s cosmic dust that’s accountable for the “false dawn” phenomenon, through which faint white light is seen over the horizon earlier than the sun rises.
Though cosmic dust was as soon as thought of a nuisance to astronomers as a result of it obscured their view of stars, planets, and other bodies, more recently the dust itself has to turn into an important object of research. Dust is made up of quite a lot of compounds, together with advanced organic compounds created by the evolution of stars, so finding out it can provide clues to the lifespan of celestial bodies.
In this case, the cosmic dust in NGC 972 is a vital issue in the growth of stars in the region. The bright glowing spots in the Hubble image are areas where stars are being born, and the dark swirls are areas of dust which blocks the light from the stars. The glow of orange and pink around the stars is illuminated hydrogen, which glows when the gas is uncovered to intense light from the forming stars.
“We look for these telltale signs of star formation after we study galaxies all through the cosmos, as star formation rates, locations, and histories supply critical clues as to how these colossal collections of gas and dust have developed over time,” the Hubble astronomers stated in a statement.