Guest wrote:It looks more like a super-hero in combat with an arm extended and a woman hanging on for dear life at the bottom.
Yes, I guess that really could
be Superman and Lois Lane! The shapeless "body" of Superman could be his cape hiding the outline of his body.
But seriously, given the apparent edge definition, and the shape, is this a structure collapsing on itself and about to become a star forming region? If it is, how long will it take? Will (or could) the dust and gas be collapsing at relativistic speeds?
This "Superman" or "rude finger" structure is (almost certainly) not going to form any stars. It is flying around helplessly in the harsh environment of the Carina Nebula, where it is continuously being battered and beaten by ultraviolet light. In spite of its sharp edges, it is really disintegrating like a knob of butter in a frying pan.
Dust pillars in the Carina Nebula.
NASA, ESA, N. Smith (U. California, Berkeley) et al., and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
But take a look at this structure, which is also located in the Carina Nebula. It is a dust pillar (or rather at least two dust pillars). The fact that they are pillars instead of bok globules means that they are still "attached" rather than flying around. The best-known pillars are probably the "Pillars of Creation
" in the Eagle Nebula. These pillars are quite often the site of (low-mass) star formation. In the pillars in the picture at left, there are two stars forming. How can we tell? It's because the not yet fully formed stars are shooting out jets, which are a product of the stars' accretion of material from their surroundings. The parallel jets at top are very obvious in the image, but don't miss the jet in the lower half of the image.
The top jet is precessing, rotating and wobbling, and the jets create bow shocks as they plow into surrounding material.