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. justathought

    Most of the hundreds of thousands of nebulous are names given by none believers anyway, and the name that is given is not usually the official name, it is just the impression, and this one just happens to give the impression of an angel.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    Yeah, yeah, guys, I know...sometimes the stupidest comments render me absolutely hysterical with laughter.
    That's what it did for me.
    It was so wrong, in so many ways...and I couldn't disagree more if I could!
    That being said, I envision my father, who would be 91 if he were alive, saying that.
    He was just a curmudgeonly (sp?) as Hubba Bubba, but *way* less tactful.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO

      I laughed too. The image in my head was some fat guy whose girlfriend from the dating site dumped him after one date, the first date he had in 6 years. Now he's getting his frustration out on the latest Hubble picture, pounding the keyboard with those stubby fingers. It's fun to make up backstories about other people you will never meet.

      December 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Edwin Hubble, astronomer and heavyweight boxer

    I'm Edwin Hubble, and I approved this photo.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Get it right

      Edwin Hubble died in 1953 fakey. I looked it up. He never turned pro. He was a promising amateur boxer.

      December 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Well, then, he shouldn't have used Mathew McConaghy's picture for his profile.
    Bet she left through the restaurant's bathroom window.
    Her name?
    Of course, 'Angela'.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I wonder what it actually cost the U.S. taxpayers for this little nostalgic kodak moment?

    December 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BOMBO

    Pure scientific research typically yields nothing right away, but decades or even a couple of centuries later it can pay off huge. When the first experiments were being done on charged materials, most of the researchers probably didn't envision harnessing electricity, or how widely it would be used. So pure researchers often share some of their work with the general public because it looks nice or it's fun. It is a small return, but better than just keeping all of the research filed away in boring volumes for years until something practical is developed.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    @ jeff frank, i believe that was the point hubba bubba was trying to make in the first post! Im not for sure but i took it as sarcastic for them spending 50 million for something that SHOULDNT HAVE to be PROVEN! So i agree with him!

    December 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Each star is worth $.05 (about a plug nickle). The more stars, the more expensive the photograph. Planets are worth $1 (about 4 bits). Where's all the pictures of those?

    December 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rooney

    Awesome! I always look foward to new Hubble pictures.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    Well cheese and krackers, where did it ever *say* that Edwin Hubble was a pro boxer? All the dude said was he was a heavyweight boxer.

    Good heavens!
    (See what I did there?)

    December 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gung hoe

    Actually isnt the hubble supposed to get out past the light that was givin off from the big bang so as to take a picture of it to try to figure out how the earth was formed.And if that is so then this picture is just a bonus

    December 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. grandma317

    The beauty of the heaven shines for the holidays!! I believe in Angels!!

    December 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. clearmind

    @JIF I believe that a snow angle is the exact angle a snowflake has to land on the earth in order for the flux capaciter (sp) to begin the heat up of the ground for spring ~ after the snow angle hits the earth, it takes approximately 3 months for the capaciter to complete the heat up...if that snow angle is not acheived, good bye global warming hello ice age.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |


    December 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Lets turn Hubble around towards Iran, and see where Obama's little drone is.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
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