Giant Star Blows Hubble a Bubble of Hot Gas

To celebrate 26th solar orbit of Hubble Space Telescope

Space news (Interaction of young, massive stars with the environment) – 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia –


To celebrate the 26th year of the Hubble Space Telescope’s journey to the beginning of space and time NASA released this image of the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635). The outer edge of the bubble is a stellar wind of hot gas moving at over 4 million miles per hour. A stellar wind that slams into and heats dense regions of cold gas on the outer edge of the bubble to varying temperatures. Heated gases that emit different colours, with oxygen near the star emitting blue light while light emitted by hydrogen and nitrogen combines to produce yellow, cooler pillars in the upper left of the image. Cooler pillars illuminated by strong ultraviolet radiation from the hot, massive star producing the bubble, which is similar to the iconic “Pillars of Creation” in the Eagle Nebula.

10 light-years across, the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) is a study in violent processes at work and chaotic nature of the cosmos. Image Credit: Bernard Michaud

As Hubble makes its 26th revolution around our home star, the sun, we celebrate the event with a spectacular image of a dynamic and exciting interaction of a young star with its environment. The view of the Bubble Nebula, crafted from WFC-3 images, reminds us that Hubble gives us a front row seat to the awe-inspiring universe we live in,” said John Grunsfeld, Hubble astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington, D.C. 

The Bubble Nebula is one of three gas shells surrounding the supermassive star (BD+602522) at the center of this image. Credit: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF

The outer edge of the Bubble Nebula’s around seven light years across, which is about the same distance as travelling to our nearest stellar neighbour Alpha Centauri one and a half times. The super-hot, massive star producing the hot stellar winds at the outer edge is about 45 times the mass of Sol. It appears in the ten o’clock position in this image, off-centre from the outer edge due to varying stellar winds.


The Bubble Nebula. Image: NASA, Donald Walter (South Carolina State University), Paul Scowen and Brian Moore (Arizona State University)

Imagine the reaction of the discoverer of the Bubble Nebula, William Herschel, who in 1787 first observed this colourful celestial object, to this Hubble Space Telescope image. How would he react to discovering it’s created by an extremely bright, super-massive star turning hydrogen into helium at a furious rate? A star about four million years old that within the next 20 million years will detonate as a supernova. The possibilities would expand his mind much like the O-type star that created the Bubble Nebula. 

Imagine the expression on his face as he views the thousands of startling images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of stellar objects across billions of light-years of space. The opening of his mind could probably be witnessed in his eyes and the expanding of his consciousness. He would fly about the universe on the edge of a bubble of hot gas and become one with the cosmos.

No better way to celebrate the 26th year of the space journey of one of the greatest and grandest telescopes ever conceived and constructed by humankind. 

Watch this YouTube video about the 26th anniversary of the space journey of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Zoom into the Bubble Nebula watching this NASA video.

You can take the space journey of NASA here.

Learn more about the Hubble Space Telescope.

Discover the things William Herschel taught us about the cosmos here.

Learn more about one of the biggest eyes on the universe ever constructed, the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Read about Hitomi, the newest x-ray satellite on the space block.

Discover TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

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