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December 31, 2012 - Chilling Image of Star Birth

Chilling Image of Star Birth This haunting composite image of RCW120, a star-forming region in Scorpius, shows an expanding bubble of ionized gas about ten light-years across. The hot gas bubble is sweeping up the surrounding cold interstellar gas and cosmic dust, which collapses into dense clouds of hydrogen where new stars are born. At around -250˚ C (-400°F) these clouds are so cold their faint heat glow can only be seen at submillimeter wavelengths. Submillimeter light is therefore vital in studying the earliest stages of star birth. Here, the submillimeter emission, visible to the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope, is shown as the blue clouds surrounding the reddish glow of the ionized gas. The image also contains data from the Second Generation Digitized Sky Survey (shown in blue and red).

Image credit: ESO / APEX / DSS2 / SuperCosmos / Deharveng (LAM) / Zavagno (LAM)

Weekly Calendar

December 31, 2012 - January 6, 2013

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 31

New Year's Eve

1864: Robert Aitken born
2004: Cassini makes first flyby of Iapetus

Moon phase Tuesday 1

New Year's Day

1801: Giuseppe Piazzi discovers asteroid Ceres

Moon phase Wednesday 2

Earth at perihelion

1900: Leslie Peltier born
1920: Isaac Asimov born
1959: Luna 1 is first spacecraft to leave Earth’s gravitational field
1972: Mariner 9 begins mapping Mars
2004: Stardust encounters Comet Wild 2

Moon phase Thursday 3

1962: NASA publicly announces and names Gemini program
2004: Mars rover Spirit lands

Moon phase Friday 4

Last Quarter Moon 10:58 PM ET

1970: NASA cancels Apollo 20 mission; further production of Saturn V launch vehicles ceases

Moon phase Saturday 5

Spica 0.6° north of Moon

1969: Venera 5 launched
1972: President Nixon announces approval to develop the Space Shuttle
2005: UB313 (Eris) discovered, ignites the Pluto-Planet debate

Moon phase Sunday 6

Epiphany

Saturn 4° north of Moon

1998: Lunar Prospector launched

 

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