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News Release Archive:

News Release 522 of 951

June 5, 2002 12:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2002-13

Hubble's Infrared Camera is Back in Business — New Images Released

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Image: Nicmos Peels Away Layers of Dust to Show Inner Region of Dusty Nebula

Nicmos Peels Away Layers of Dust to Show Inner Region of Dusty NebulaSTScI-PRC2002-13a

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

The revived Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has penetrated layers of dust in a star-forming cloud to uncover a dense, craggy edifice of dust and gas [image at right].

This region is called the Cone Nebula (NGC 2264), so named because, in ground-based images, it has a conical shape. NICMOS enables the Hubble telescope to see in near-infrared wavelengths of light, so that it can penetrate the dust that obscures the nebula's inner regions. But the Cone is so dense that even the near-infared "eyes" of NICMOS can't penetrate all the way through it.

The image shows the upper 0.5 light-years of the nebula. The entire nebula is 7 light-years long. The Cone resides in a turbulent star-forming region, located 2,500 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros.

Radiation from hot, young stars [located beyond the top of the image] has slowly eroded the nebula over millions of years. Ultraviolet light heats the edges of the dark cloud, releasing gas into the relatively empty region of surrounding space.

NICMOS has peeled away the outer layers of dust to reveal even denser dust. The denser regions give the nebula a more three-dimensional structure than can be seen in the visible-light picture at left, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the Hubble telescope. In peering through the dusty fašade to the nebula's inner regions, NICMOS has unmasked several stars [yellow dots at upper right]. Astronomers don't know whether these stars are behind the dusty nebula or embedded in it. The four bright stars lined up on the left are in front of the nebula.

The human eye cannot see infrared light, so colors have been assigned to correspond with near-infrared wavelengths. The blue light represents shorter near-infrared wavelengths and the red light corresponds to longer wavelengths.

The NICMOS color composite image was made by combining photographs taken in J-band, H-band, and Paschen-alpha filters. The NICMOS images were taken on May 11, 2002.

Object Names: Cone Nebula, NGC 2264

Image Type: Astronomical

Credits for NICMOS image: NASA, the NICMOS Group (STScI, ESA), and the NICMOS Science Team (University of Arizona)

Credits for ACS image: NASA, H. Ford (JHU), G. Illingworth (UCSC/LO), M.Clampin (STScI), G. Hartig (STScI), the ACS Science Team, and ESA

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Dense Gas and Dust Beyond the Outer Layers of the Cone Nebula Image Type: Astronomical Dense Gas and Dust Beyond the Outer Layers of the Cone Nebula Edifice of Gas and Dust in the Cone Nebula Image Type: Astronomical Edifice of Gas and Dust in the Cone Nebula

All images from this news release:

To access available information and downloadable versions of images in this news release, click on any of the images below: