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3 October, 2013

A Cosmic Caterpillar - Isaac Newton Telescope Contributes to the Hubble Heritage Project

This image of IRAS 20324+4057 is a composite of Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys data taken in green and infrared light in 2006, and ground-based imaging in the red from the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) in 2003, as part of the INT Photometric H-alpha Survey of the Nothern Galactic Plane (IPHAS). This "cosmic caterpillar" was monthly image of the Hubble Heritage Project. Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and IPHAS [ Various formats ].

The caterpillar-shaped knot, called IRAS 20324+4057, is a protostar in a very early evolutionary stage. It is still in the process of collecting material from an envelope of gas surrounding it. However, that envelope is being eroded by the radiation from Cygnus OB2. Protostars in this region should eventually become young stars with final masses about one to ten times that of our Sun, but if the eroding radiation from the nearby bright stars destroys the gas envelope before the protostars finish accreting, the final masses of the protostars may be reduced. The object lies 4,500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus.

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Last modified: 03 October 2013