There are millions of stars visible in a clear night sky. From Earth, they appear like tiny dots sparkling for no explained reason. But there’s one star at the centre of our existence, which burns itself to support life. It’s the Sun, around which several planets, including the Earth, revolves. Now, imagine a star that is 200,000 times brighter and 32 times more massive than our Sun. NASA has recently shared an image that showed what a world around this star would look like. The image featured a cosmic landscape that appears to be incredibly serenic, but the region is full of turbulence as well.
This star, called Herschel 36, is at the centre of the Lagoon Nebula, a giant interstellar cloud in the constellation Sagittarius and located around 4,000 light-years away. Nebula is full of tumultuous gasses, hurricane-like stellar winds and intense radiation, including powerful ultraviolet rays, emanating from the star. These interactions are carving out a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust.
In the cosmic sense, this massive star is still young, NASA said. It is about 1-million-year-old and is throwing off its natal cocoon of material – ionized gasses like hydrogen and nitrogen. These gases are shown in the image as red (hydrogen) and green (nitrogen).
The image was captured by NASA’s Hubble telescope, which is placed deep in space above the obstructions caused by the distortion in the atmosphere, rain clouds and light pollution. The observatory has an unobstructed view of the universe. The telescope is a joint project by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
According to the space agency, Herschel 36 is still young and will live for another 5 million years. In comparison, our Sun is 5-billion-year-old and will live another 5 billion years.
The Hubble view shows a 3D structure and a region of the Nebula measuring about 4 light-years across.