The star-forming region Sharpless 2-106 (S106) has a bi-polar shape that, in a December 2011 Hubble press release, was likened to a "celestial snow angel". The "wings" of the nebula are actually bubbles of hot gas created by stellar winds and high energy radiation coming from a massive, hot, newborn star in the center. A ring of dense gas and dust encircles that star and forces the outflows into two oppositely directed lobes. The blue light in the S106 image represents hotter gas along the interior of the lobes, while the red light comes from cooler gas along the exterior.
This movie presents a scientific visualization of S106 in which the Hubble image has been augmented with additional field-of-view from the Subaru Infrared Telescope. A couple research articles in science journals described the basic hourglass-like shape of the nebula. Based on those papers, and augmented by intuition and artistic license as needed, the stars and the lobes of glowing gas from the Hubble/Subaru two-dimensional image have been separated and sculpted to create the depth in the movie. This three-dimensional view illustrates and emphasizes that many of the objects contained within astronomical images are not at the same distance, but, in fact, spread across many light-years of space. Note, however, that the relative distances between stars and the nebula have been compressed.
Production date: December 15, 2011
G. Bacon, T. Borders, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (STScI)
HubbleSite's NewsCenter is the place to find the story behind this video, along with its original news release and all related material.