USRA: SOFIA Reveals How the Swan Nebula Hatched

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USRA: SOFIA Reveals How the Swan Nebula Hatched

Post by bystander » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:22 pm

SOFIA Reveals How the Swan Nebula Hatched
Universities Space Research Association | 2020 Jan 07
Composite image of the Swan Nebula. SOFIA detected the blue areas (20 microns) near the center, revealing gas as it’s heated by massive stars located at the center and the green areas (37 microns) that trace dust as it’s warmed both by massive stars and nearby newborn stars. The nine never-before-seen protostars were found primarily in the southern areas. The red areas near the edge represent cold dust that was detected by the Herschel Space Telescope (70 microns), while the white star field was detected by the Spitzer Space Telescope (3.6 microns). The space telescopes could not observe the blue and green regions in such detail because the detectors were saturated. SOFIA’s view reveals evidence that parts of the nebula formed separately to create the swan-like shape seen today. Credits: NASA/SOFIA/De Buizer/Radomski/Lim; NASA/JPL-Caltech; ESA/Herschel

Universities Space Research Association today announced that SOFIA revealed a new view of the Swan Nebula showing that parts of it formed separately to create the swan-like shape seen today. ...

Though astronomers have been studying the Swan Nebula for 250 years, the new SOFIA image reveals never-before-seen details of the Swan, or Omega Nebula. This is the most detailed infrared view of the nebula, revealing features that previous observations with space telescopes could not see including massive stars at their earliest stages of evolution. Scientists found nine areas where the nebula is collapsing and will one day form stars, called protostars, that had never been seen before. The study also found evidence that the nebula was not all formed at the same time but has undergone multiple eras of formation that are responsible for its present, swan-like appearance.

One of the brightest and most massive star-forming regions in our galaxy, the Omega or Swan nebula, came to resemble the shape resembling a swan’s neck we see today only relatively recently. New observations reveal that its regions formed separately over multiple eras of star birth. The new image from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is helping scientists chronicle the history and evolution of this well-studied nebula. ...

The new view reveals nine areas where the nebula’s clouds are collapsing, creating the first step in the birth of stars, called protostars, that had not been seen before. Additionally, the team calculated the ages of the nebula’s different regions. They found that portions of the swan-like shape were not all created at the same time, but took shape over multiple eras of star formation. The central region is the oldest, most evolved and likely formed first. Next, the northern area formed, while the southern region is the youngest, and was created most recently. Even though the northern area is older than the southern region, the radiation and stellar winds from previous generations of stars has disturbed the material there — preventing it from collapsing to form the next generation. ...

SOFIA Reveals How the Swan Nebula Hatched
NASA | Ames Research Center | SOFIA | 2020 Jan 07

Surveying the Giant HII Regions of the Milky Way with SOFIA: II. M17 ~ Wanggi Lim et al
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