Monday, July 15, 2024

This epic space cloud sums up our goodbye for 2020

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

Sometimes, the universe provides the perfect way to express our feelings.

A space cloud 7,500 light-years away has given us a convenient goodbye that we can think of for an entire garbage fire of 2020.

This small mass of material is part of a much larger cloud complex called the Carina Nebula, and under normal circumstances it would not be given a title of its own. But its distinctive shape led scientists to call it the defiant finger.

And this is exactly what it looks like – Lewd gesture of old “Go and do horrible things for yourself,” and “go away, but with more crude words.”

(NASA, European Space Agency, N. Smith / UC Berkeley, and the Hubble Heritage Team / STScI / AURA)

In fact, the Defiant Finger is what is known as the Bok Globule. They are small, dark, dense knots of dust and gas that are often the cradle of stars. As areas of the cloud condense, they can collapse under the influence of their own gravity and begin to spin into a star.

The challenge finger, which is made of materials equal to 6 solar masses, may have stars that form inside it; Because it is so dense, it is difficult to see inside. Glare that appears to be from external sources – light from bright nearby stars.

Finger location(NASA, European Space Agency, N. Smith / UC Berkeley, and the Hubble Heritage Team / STScI / AURA)

Since young stars are usually bright and hot, they explode their surroundings with radiation. The outer portion of the Defiant Finger Ball was likely illuminated and ionized by a Wolf-Rayet star WR 25, A short-lived massive star at the end of its life span; Tr16 – 244Hot, young giant. Or a combination of both.

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But as it lights up, it destroys these stars, too: slowly but surely, they vaporize the defiant finger. At the current estimated rate of mass loss, the dust cloud has an expected life of only 200,000 to 1 million years.

This isn’t very long in cosmic terms, not long at all. But it’s long enough to make a poetic statement: a cry in the void, a defiant gesture in the face of inevitability. And a really convenient way to close the door in 2020.

Thanks space. And bring 2021.

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