July 10, 2012

New Image Of Vela C Revealed By ESA

Lee Rannals (http://blogs.www.redorbit.com/author/rannals/) for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A new image taken by the European Space Agency´s Herschel space observatory, shows off two nebulous blue orbs in the Vela C region.

Vela C is one of four regions known as the Vela Molecular Ridge, which is a complex of gas and dust located 2,300 light-years from Earth and weighing about 500,000 times the mass of the sun.

The image shows the interplay between gravity and turbulence in the region, which contains more material than any other part of the molecular cloud.

These forces together help to create beautiful filaments and structures within the region. In the image, a long ridge can be seen twisting through the center of Vela C, with other smaller strands that branch away off it.

The interaction between gravity and turbulence seen in the image shows what triggers the formation of stars. As gas and dust grow larger, they start to pull in more and more material, which leads to higher density and temperature.

This reaction ignites a nuclear furnace to help power a star. As the turbulent motions start counteracting, they tend to clump, and can sometimes push material into regions of high density.

Scientists consider Vela C an ideal place to observe their theories on star formation because it is one of the closest star-forming regions to Earth. The region produces stars of low, medium, and high mass.

The blue areas seen in Vela C come from very massive and hot stars, which burn quickly through their fuel and live just 10 million years.