Hubble telescope shows 'Snow Angel'
December 15th, 2011
02:43 PM ET

Hubble telescope shows 'Snow Angel'

Far, far away in an isolated part of the Milky Way lies a star nursery housing a celestial spectacle so beautiful that the Space Telescope Science Institute has taken to calling it a “Holiday Snow Angel."

Spectacular images and video released by the NASA-built observatory Thursday show a star-forming region in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan) nearly 2,000 light years from Earth.

In official terms, Sharpless 2-106 (doesn’t have the same ring, does it?) gets its looks from an extreme confluence of heat and motion and features a ring of particles that “acts like a belt,” according to a press release. The hourglass-like shape in the middle is created by gaseous particles orbiting the star.

Don't be fooled by the cute name, Hubble spokesman Ray Villard told CNN Thursday in an email.

"Though we nickname this a ‘Snow Angel’ there is nothing angelic about what's happening in the picture," Villard said. "A super-hot star much larger than our sun has twin blowtorches of hot gas shooting out into space. The star is destined for a short life and will then explode as a supernova, disintegrating everything around it."

The nebula of S106 is in a region containing several hundred brown dwarfs, objects that are best described as star-planet hybrids.

The image is a composite of several exposures and was captured in February by Hubble, the release said.

Hubble, a joint effort between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Space Telescopic Science Institute, has been churning out awesome images of the cosmos for much of its 20 years in existence.

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Filed under: NASA • Science • Space
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Watcher

    Cool Jesus is SOOOOO Awsome

    December 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaybird

      Who said anything about Jesus? It's a "snow angel," not the messiah.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. jimbo

    Don't you love how god doesn't want to show proof of himself on anything other than supernova explosions, rock formations, and toast. Amazing.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Traci

      Didnt you read the headlines yesterday ? Your not supose to use the word " amazing" no more . But shh I agree it is very amazing to see whats out there.

      January 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cornell


    December 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ronny

    Butterfly? Does anyone else see a pretty, non-mythical butterfly??

    January 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2LiveJew

      Inagoddadavida, baby

      January 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • buddhabill

      Innagoddadavida, baby

      January 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pips

    This was recently on NASAs site. That bright star in the middle just formed, and this is the picture of it. They have an image before this and it's not there. What you're seeing is a birth of a star. Pretty amazing.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BroadCasting

    It is he......the FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER! No big surprise.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. H. B.

    They did it again! CNN simply "didn't post" my comment, though it followed every rule.

    But I was critical of the bible-thumpers who come to spam us. How dare I?? Yet the religious spam IS allowed.

    Most responsible media have a "Science" tab on their homepages. CNN bundles science with technology, and buries it rather deep. They have a new blog-like thingie that – I presume – is supposed to tell us that science is a subject people might want to dally with. How benevolent.

    I would urge scientists to refrain from using terms that push the buttons of theocrats and their ilk. That "god particle" bit should have taught them a very HARD lesson, yet they now name this photo as a "Snow Angel." Disclaiming any resemblance to a religious being doesn't stop the religious spammers, who wade right in. Henceforth, you scientists, keep the nuances and terminology of religion strictly OUT of your discourse, especially with the media.

    Thank you.

    BTW, I've found that the science feasting is rather good at the BBC. I found too much to browse through on one day – or even a year! So much good stuff! After CNN, it was like drinking a keg of beer after coming in from the desert.

    Well, CNN is digging its own credibility grave. It's nowhere near what it was during the Gulf War, when – at LAST! – we had one news media source that was thorough and mostly objective. CNN has really sunk since. I read it, as one of many media sources that I browse. But I find it mostly underwhelming.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ks

    Looks kinda like a dragon-pretty awsome!

    January 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
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