허블 망원경에 5월에 설치된 새로운 카메라 모듈은 별의 탄생을 관측하기 아주 좋다고 합니다.

사진은 남쪽 바람개비 은하, M83 입니다. 소용돌이 은하로서 자주 M51과 비교되는 은하로서 북반구의 바다뱀자리에 위치하고 있으며 약 1500 만 광년 정도 떨어져 있답니다. M51에 비해서 두배정도 가까운 거리에 위치하고 있죠.

은하의 생성 속도가 우리 은하에 비해 급속하게 빠르며 위 사진에서 보이다 싶이 수많은 청색거성과 적색거성이 존재합니다. 거기다 약 60개 정도의 초신성 폭발이 지금 이 이미지가 보여주는 지역에 있었다고 하는군요.

항상 느끼는 것이지만, 천체사진을 보면 언제나 감동에 휩쌓이죠. :3

아래에 사진 설명 원문을 첨부합니다. (번역은 일부분만 해두었습니다.)


 - The spectacular new camera installed on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope during Servicing Mission 4 in May has delivered the most detailed view of star birth in the graceful, curving arms of the nearby spiral galaxy M83.

Nicknamed the Southern Pinwheel, M83 is undergoing more rapid star formation than our own Milky Way galaxy, especially in its nucleus. The sharp 'eye' of the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) has captured hundreds of young star clusters, ancient swarms of globular star clusters, and hundreds of thousands of individual stars, mostly blue supergiants and red supergiants.

WFC3's broad wavelength range, from ultraviolet to near-infrared, reveals stars at different stages of evolution, allowing astronomers to dissect the galaxy's star-formation history.

The image reveals in unprecedented detail the current rapid rate of star birth in this famous "grand design" spiral galaxy. The newest generations of stars are forming largely in clusters on the edges of the dark dust lanes, the backbone of the spiral arms. These fledgling stars, only a few million years old, are bursting out of their dusty cocoons and producing bubbles of reddish glowing hydrogen gas.

The excavated regions give a colorful "Swiss cheese" appearance to the spiral arm. Gradually, the young stars' fierce winds (streams of charged particles) blow away the gas, revealing bright blue star clusters. These stars are about 1 million to 10 million years old. The older populations of stars are not as blue.

A bar of stars, gas, and dust slicing across the core of the galaxy may be instigating most of the star birth in the galaxy's core. The bar funnels material to the galaxy's center, where the most active star formation is taking place. The brightest star clusters reside along an arc near the core.

The remains of about 60 supernova blasts, the deaths of massive stars, can be seen in the image, five times more than known previously in this region. WFC3 identified the remnants of exploded stars. By studying these remnants, astronomers can better understand the nature of the progenitor stars, which are responsible for the creation and dispersal of most of the galaxy's heavy elements.

M83, located in the Southern Hemisphere, is often compared to M51, dubbed the Whirlpool galaxy, in the Northern Hemisphere. Located 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra, M83 is two times closer to Earth than M51.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O'Connell (University of Virginia), B. Whitmore (Space Telescope Science Institute), M. Dopita (Australian National University), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee