Nebula NGC 604
Spiral Galaxy M33
last updated October 24th,
and is permanently morphing...
(10 K'an (Lizard) - 2 Zac (White) - 244/260 - 220.127.116.11.4)
At the heart of NGC 604 are over 200 hot stars, much more massive than our Sun (15 to 60 solar masses). They heat the gaseous walls of the nebula making the gas flouresce. Their light also highlights the nebula's three-dimensional shape, like a lantern in a cavern. By studying the physical structure of a giant nebula, astronomers may determine how clusters of massive stars affect the evolution of the interstellar medium of the galaxy. The nebula also yields clues to its star formation history and will improve understanding of the starburst process when a galaxy undergoes a "firestorm" of star formation.
The image was taken on January 17, 1995 with Hubble's
Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. Separate exposures were taken in different
colors of light to study the physical properties of the hot gas (17,000
degrees Fahrenheit, 10,000 degrees Kelvin).