This Week In Space, December 21st, 2009

Geek Culture

A Festive View From Hubble (Image From HubbleSite)A Festive View From Hubble (Image From HubbleSite)

A Festive View From Hubble (Image From HubbleSite)

This week, as there are no scheduled launches, I would like to highlight an image release from Hubble from this past week. Before I get to that, let me hit a couple highlights for the week.

The three launches scheduled for last week made it off the pad successfully, albeit with a 24 hour delay on the Helios 2B launch. The WISE mission has made it to space and is going through checkout and calibration. The Soyuz launch was also successful and is now making its way to the International Space Station. The Soyuz module will arrive at the station on Tuesday with three new crew members for the current ISS Expedition.

Since it is a relatively quiet week, I would like to highlight an image released from the Hubble Space Telescope last week. The new discoveries are starting to come fast and furious from the upgraded observatory but one release from last week is in keeping with the festive nature of the season. The image was released this past Tuesday with the subject being a portion of the Doradus Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud. Within the Nebula is a region that is clearer than other parts with many bright stars shining brightly. Shining like ornaments on a Christmas Tree. Indeed, this area looks a little like a Christmas Tree in space. From the press release on

Christmas Tree HighlightedChristmas Tree Highlighted

Christmas Tree Highlighted

The brilliant stars are carving deep cavities in the surrounding material by unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light, and hurricane-force stellar winds (streams of charged particles), which are etching away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud in which the stars were born. The image reveals a fantasy landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys, as well as a dark region in the center that roughly looks like the outline of a holiday tree. Besides sculpting the gaseous terrain, the brilliant stars can also help create a successive generation of offspring. When the winds hit dense walls of gas, they create shocks, which may be generating a new wave of star birth.

A very nice treat from Hubble for sure. Happy Holidays to all our readers!

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