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. banasy©

    Well played, sir!
    And, hi.


    December 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |


    December 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. **cosmicvox *

    ... a Snow Angel is what children make in the snow by lying down in it and moving their arms up and down. It creates an image of a person with wings.

    Nobody is trying to promote religion with this name for cryin' out loud!

    December 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Look Mommy!

    A million dollar picture of a snow angel.

    December 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Yes, cosmicvox, I know about Snow Angels. It's not just kids who make them: I can, too. I can even get back up.
    It was the "snow angles" in the first post that showed an area of ignorance in my experience.
    @ clearmind:
    Thank you for setting me straight about the snow angles, spring, and Climate Change, as we call it now.

    December 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. **cosmicvox *

    @JIF, my comment was aimed at people like 'say what', calling the name Snow Angel "a ridiculous Spin".

    December 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Look, Timmy!

    It's beautiful, isn't it?

    December 15, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gold Dragon

    Hello everyone.
    All Hubble"s pics never cease to amaze me. Space is beautifully picturesque.
    Everyone"s sense of humor is also as colorful and always put a smile on my face. Thanks.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. F1

    Did anyone ever think that god does not want to be found by astronomers (if there is a god) and if he does not want to be found why? Is light not inteligence? And if light is matter than what created that light? Intellegence, no? So there fore would it not take intelligence to create life? Big bang is not a creator of this intelligence, than what is? The stars are a violent place, where this intelligence does not exist . So were we not created by this creator ? If so for what purpose because this light has been given to us to live on that matter which we walk upon which is earth, and we were given the intelligence to chose our own beliefs to live life as we choose ,

    December 16, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. @F1

    No matter your choice, gravity. You can choose to be weightless all you want, but the natural force of gravity will let you know that your choice is wrong. The same can be said of any who violate the laws of nature. You can choose, but if your choice is a violation of natural laws, it will soon become apparent that your choice may not have been very wise.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Snap

      We all believe in gravity because it is reproducible by anyone, at anytime. It's interactions with us are uniform, and aren't partial to the morality of the subject. That is the nice thing about laws of nature, they want to be known, and the present themselves in a rational, logical way. The God I was taught about, is more about loyal proclamations of faith, even when the proclaimer in no way knows what he is even saying. They tried to convince me it was based on logic, offering up apologetic explanations of why it could be possible, or why it might be preferable to other ideas. My experience has been that he [God] doesn't interfere in our lives in a uniform manner, nor even act in uniform to his own previous actions. One may have a prayer answered to find homes for kittens, while another must watch them die. We strive to look to the will of God, saying, if I ask according to his will, it will be done. But God's will be done regardless of your prayer, therefore your prayer doesn't affect anything. I know that I offer wisdom, and the Bible expressly states that the wisdom of the wise will be laid low. But I say this, if God would uplift those who have not sought to return him a profit on his talent that he gave them, but lay low those who have strived to foster their talents for the good of humanity, do I want a part in his kingdom? If you don't want a part in his kingdom, eternal life there is a curse, not a gift.

      January 3, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. Hugh Jass


    December 23, 2011 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. James Ph. Kotsybar

    - James Ph. Kotsybar

    The remnants of supernovae disperse
    behemoth art, when stars annihilate.
    “Sombrero”, “Crab” and “Horseshead” populate
    the gallery of our known universe.
    There’s “Ant,” “Tarantula”, and Pelican.”
    There’s “Eagle” and “Pillars Of Creation,”
    and even one called “Big Running Chicken.”
    One slightly resembles our great nation.
    These interstellar Rorschach tests reveal
    the shapes we recognize within our world,
    like “Hamburger,” “Butterfly” and “Pinwheel,”
    but they are the guts of stars that are hurled.

    Each may have destroyed some sentient race,
    but, “Look! It’s like a snow angel in space!”

    December 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ldean50


    December 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ldean50

    Far out! ... and I mean that in a literally kind of way!

    December 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. yes

    I used to make snow angels, then i took an arrow to the knee.

    December 26, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
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