The Cave Nebula in Infrared from Spitzer

 

What’s happening in and around the Cave Nebula?

The Cave Nebula

To help find out, NASA’s orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope looked into this optically-dark star-forming region in four colors of infrared light. The Cave Nebula, cataloged as Sh2-155, is quite bright in infrared, revealing details not only of internal pillars of gas and dust, but of the illuminating star cluster too – all near the top of the image.

The red glow around the Cave’s entrance is created by dust heated by bright young stars. To the right is Cepheus B, a star cluster that formed previously from the same cloud of gas and dust.

Other interesting stars of Cepheus come to light in infrared as well, including those illuminating an even younger nebula toward the image bottom, and a runaway star pushing a bow shock, tinged in red near the image center.

This region spans about 50 light years and lies about 2,500 light years toward the constellation of the King of Aethiopia (Cepheus).

Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltach, Spitzer Space Telescope

Superbubbles in Galaxy NGC 3079

 

What created these huge galactic superbubbles? Two of these unusual bubbles, each spanning thousands of light-years, were recently discovered near the center of spiral galaxy NGC 3079.

The superbubbles, shown in purple on the image right, are so hot they emit X-rays detected by NASA’s Earth-orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Since the bubbles straddle the center of NGC 3079, a leading hypothesis is that they were somehow created by the interaction of the central supermassive black hole with surrounding gas.

Superbubbles in Galaxy NGC 3079

Alternatively, the superbubbles might have been created primarily by the energetic winds from many hot stars near that galaxy’s center. The only similar known phenomenon is the gamma-ray emitting Fermi bubbles emanating from the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, discovered 10 years ago in images taken by NASA’s Fermi satellite.

Research into the nature of the NGC 3079 superbubbles will surely continue, as well as searches for high-energy superbubbles in other galaxies.