Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"A Look to the Heavens"

“What created the Waterfall Nebula? No one knows. The structure seen in the region of NGC 1999 in the Great Orion Molecular Cloud complex is one of the more mysterious structures yet found on the sky. Designated HH-222, the elongated gaseous stream stretches about ten light years and emits an unusual array of colors. 
 Click image for larger size.
One hypothesis is that the gas filament results from the wind from a young star impacting a nearby molecular cloud. That would not explain, however, why the Waterfall and fainter streams all appear to converge on a bright but unusual non thermal radio source located toward the upper left of the curving structure. Another hypothesis is that the unusual radio source originates from a binary system containing a hot white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole, and that the Waterfall is just a jet from this energetic system. Such systems, though, are typically strong X-rays emitters, and no X-rays have been detected. For now, this case remains unsolved. Perhaps well-chosen future observations and clever deductive reasoning will unlock the true origin of this enigmatic wisp in the future.”
Commenting on the above image, Chet Raymo writes, "A "waterfall" of glowing gas in the vast molecular clouds of the constellation Orion. Nothing else quite like it that I know of, and its origin is a mystery. Of course, it only looks like a waterfall if you view it in one orientation - there's no up or down in the greater universe. And the scale? Ten light-years from "top" to "bottom," about the distance from the Sun to Sirius. No roar, no mist, no solid strata. But powered by the same four forces of nature - the squeeze of gravity, fusion reactions that involve the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetic radiation.

It's all of a piece. The universe is infinitely complex and stunningly simple. On a planet of a distant star there are undoubtedly waterfalls - same forces, same elements, same molecular bonds. And what about the boy and the girl, sitting side by side, holding hands, falling in love? In a sense, utterly unique. But then again, just one more way the universe churns with endless cycles of matter and energy."

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