Thursday, November 21, 2013

Astronomy Picture of the Day: 11/22/13 - Sharpless 239

This fantastic nebula is Sharpless 239, also known as Sh2-239 or LBN 821, which is located some 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Perseus.

The nebula, which is classified as a reflection nebula, is situated in the Taurus molecular cloud and stretches a full 3 light-years across. Overall, the area is home to some 50 solar masses of star-formation material, bringing about starburst phase, which will see the birth of at least a dozen sun-like stars.

Located in within the interstellar medium, you can see several of these proto-stars forming, with the primary binary star system [ L1551 IRS 5] responsible for the nebula"s appearance seen near the center. These newborn stars are located a mere 40 AU"s from one another, with both being heavy emitters of ionized hydrogen molecules.

References, sources, and further reading:

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