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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Star-Forming Region Sharpless 2-106 as imaged by the GTC

Star-Forming Region Sharpless 2-106 as imaged by the GTC
Click on the image for full resolution (7.74 MB)

This image was acquired by the Gran Telescopio Canarias, aka GTC or GRANTECAN. Known as Sharpless 2-106 (Sh2-106), the hourglass-shaped nebula is a stellar nursery made up of glowing gas and light-scattering dust. The material shrouds a natal high-mass star thought to be mostly responsible for the hourglass shape of the nebula due to high-speed winds which eject material from the forming star deep within. Research also indicates that many sub-stellar objects are forming within the cloud and may someday result in a cluster of 50 to 150 stars in this region. Massive star IRS 4 is beginning to spread its wings. Born only about 100,000 years ago, material streaming out from this newborn star has formed Sharpless 2-106, pictured above. A large disk of dust and gas orbiting Infrared Source 4 (IRS 4), visible in dark red near the image center, gives the nebula an hourglass or butterfly shape. S106 gas near IRS 4 acts as an emission nebula as it emits light after being ionized, while dust far from IRS 4 reflects light from the central star and so acts as a reflection nebula. Detailed inspection of images like the above image has revealed hundreds of low-mass brown dwarf stars lurking in the nebula's gas. Sh2-106 spans about 2 light-years and lies about 2000 light-years away toward the constellation of Cygnus (the Swan).
The full resolution image weighs 7.74 MB, so please be patient when downloading!
Credit: Grand Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC)

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