A Star is Born

What comes to mind when you read that title, “A Star is Born”? I guess the answer to that question depends on your age. When someone says the words “A Star is Born” do you think of the 1937 movie by that name starring Janet Gaynor  and Fredric March? Or perhaps you think of the 1954 movie of that name starring Judy Garland and James Mason? Myself? I was born in the 1950’s so my memory hook pulls up the 1976 “A Star is Born” starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. And for some of you younger folk perhaps that title brings to mind the rapper Jay-Z’s song of the same name.

M42, M43, NGC 1977

So what does this have to do with astronomy? Just this. When I look at many of the fantastic emission nebula in the night sky many of which are star birthing areas the words of this oft used title come to mind. A star is being born. Well actually many stars are being born.

Here are my images of two of the more spectacular star birthing areas visible to us from our pale blue dot.

Arguably the most famous star birthing area in our sky (at least for those of us that live too far north to see Eta Carina and some of the fantastic star formation areas of the southern hemisphere) is the Great Nebula in Orion (number 42 and 43 in Messier’s List). Here is my take on this wonderful area of the night sky.

M20 and M21

Another beautiful example of a star birthing area is the Trifid Nebula (#20 in Messier’s list). It is called the Trifid Nebula because of it’s appears to be divided beautifully into three nearly equal parts. That. however is an optical illusion. The bright red nebular area is a sigular bright red star birthing area. Because of our position in the universe our view of this bright nebula has a foreground object. The dark lines that “separate” the nebula into three parts in our mind’s eye is actually a dark molecular cloud in front of the bright nebula. That dark cloud is not directly part of the star birthing area but an area of dark gas (i.e. not illuminated by a nearby star). Here is my take on M20.


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2 Responses to A Star is Born

  1. Jim Benet says:

    I like the concept of “astronomy for the dummies”. Of course what I really mean is introduction to astronomy. I like the way you show how new stars are born from gas clouds called nebula. I would caution your usage of the terms, “dark matter cloud” as it may be mistaken for dark matter. I think you are actually refering to matter composed of dark dust clouds. Overall the website is written very well. Great Job!

    • Russell says:

      Good point Jim. The text has been updated to indicate that the dark “lines” in the Trifid Nebula are made up of dark molecular clouds, not dark matter.

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