Astronomers Finally Know What's Behind This Mysterious Glowing Red Cloud

Astronomers Finally Know What's Behind this Mysterious Glowing Red Cloud

Look deeply into this glowing red cloud drifting beyond the edges of our galaxy. Pretty weird, right? The weirdest thing of all, though, is what it's been hiding.

RCW 106 and its red glowing clouds / ESO

The ESO just released this new image of a bank of red clouds (RCW 106) 12,000 light years away that astronomers finally managed to get a better look at. The real find, say researchers, isn't really in the cloud itself — it's what the clouds are hiding: Giant stars (several times the size of our own sun) that only form behind incredibly thick clouds in nebulas.

The clouds are so thick that despite the size and brightness of the stars, all we can see is their glow through the haze. Beyond the difficulty in seeing them, these giant O-type stars are so rare (literally 1 in 3 million) and short-lived, that researchers are still confused about how something that large manages to hold together. Having confirmed that O-type stars are behind RCW 106's red glow, though, researchers hope to get a little better idea of what's going on with these weird stars.


Comments

    By stating that O-type stars are "several times the size of our own sun" you mean 15 to 90 times the mass and between 30,000 and 1,000,000 times the luminosity. Perhaps it's just me, but "several" implies a number that one can count on one's hand, and information about the luminosity might have imparted more about the significance of the discovery.

      Agreed, also, stating a star as O Type doesn't necessarily mean it is HUGE. It means it is BRIGHT. Granted, most of the O Types we have encountered are fairly huge on the star scale. However, the spectral classification denotes luminosity and not physical size.

      That being said, it does measure temperature, an O type star is roughly in the 41,000 kelvin range, while our Sun (star) is in the 5,900 kelvin range.

      Or to put it in a sense that can be abstracted, our sun is a lit match held in hand during a reasonably cold night, while an O type star is a blazing forest fire out of control during the hottest day of summer.

      Moreover, an O type star emits more Ultraviolet than visible light, and by more, we are talking magnitudes more, as @jamall pointed out.

      Last edited 04/03/16 8:16 am

        Thanks guys for that extra detail - very useful! Love the power of the community!

          Hahah don't expect Gizmodo US "authors" to pass/link any further information or definitions. Hell they can't even use "several" right. More clickbait titles I say! :P

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