Spitzer Spots a Starry Region Bursting With Bubbles

Patchy multicolored nebulae containing many scattered small roundish bubbles

Patchy multicolored nebulae containing many scattered small roundish bubbles

New images captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope suggest parts of the Milky Way are bubbling over, like a pot of boiling water. According to the space agency, each bubble in the region contains hundreds to thousands of stars.

A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveals the Milky Way's Aquila region to be a bustling field of stars sending bubbly bursts of dust and gas out in colorful bursts. The bubbles are about 10 to 30 light years in diameter which have thousands of stars formed from the interstellar cloud.

The image's different colors represent different wavelengths of infrared light. The different colours are due to different wavelengths of infrared radiation where red depicts bow shocks - warm dust heated up by stars, green depicts clouds of dust and hydrocarbon gases and blue is the radiation from stars.

The bubbles are estimated to be 10 to 30 light-years across, based on what astronomers know about them and other cosmic bubbles. However, determining the exact sizes of individual bubbles can be hard, because their distance from Earth is challenging to measure and objects appear smaller the farther away they are.

Stars with short lives The many thousands of stars within these bubbles are OB stars - massive O and early B-type stars.

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Four bow shocks, red arcs of warm dust created as winds from fast-moving stars push aside dust grains spread out through most of the nebula, are also visible in the image. As the stars pushed away the dust, they generated winds that formed into red arcs. This is a collective effort by volunteers and amateur researchers to help professional researchers collect information about the universe.

The size of these bubbles is decided by the wind and radiation coming from the young and massive stars within their sphere. Citizen scientists who participated in the project combed through images from Spitzer's public data archive and pointed out as many bubbles as possible.

More than 78,000 unique user accounts contributed.

The newly published Spitzer image features at least 30 bubbles produced by new stars. The region lies in the Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation Aquila (aka the Eagle).

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