This Weird Blue Ribbon in Space Is Actually a Nursery of Future Stars

This Weird Blue Ribbon in Space Is Actually a Nursery of Future Stars
Source: ESA
Source: ESA

Astronomers have spotted a beautiful blue ribbon in space that will one day ignite into a cluster of baby stars.

An average of about seven new stars are born in our galaxy every year. Astronomers try to track down hot spots for new stars by searching for clouds of dust in gas in the coldest parts of the Milky Way. The European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory is giving us rare glimpses inside these super-cold star nurseries.

The blue ribbon in this new image shows the coldest part of the cloud. It's about minus 259 degrees Celsius and holds about 800 times the mass of the sun. Soon all that mass will crunch together and sprout new stars. 

Source: ESA

Cold temperatures are critical for star formation because they make the clouds of gas and dust move slow enough to succumb to gravity. Gravity crushes the clouds together and new stars ignite. These filaments are spread all over our galaxy.

"We detected a wealth of huge filaments, with lengths ranging from a few to a hundred light-years, revealing what seems to be the 'skeleton' of our galaxy," astronomer Sergio Molinari said in a statement in May.

But astronomers are still trying to figure out exactly what happens inside a filament that triggers star formation. Studying images like this one is one way to find out.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

MORE FROM

The US desperately needs computer science majors, so keep coding

There are more than 500,000 computing jobs open in the US right now.

The 2017 solar eclipse will help scientists figure out just how much energy we get from the sun

Reflections are tricky things — as we'll learn when August's total solar eclipse hits.

No, Mars didn’t grow 12 more moons — here’s what’s happening in this stunning picture

Mars and the mysteriously multiplying moon.

Scooby-Doo’s real name isn’t Scoobert Doobert

It's time to call Scooby by his real name.

Zion Harvey, youngest recipient of double hand transplant, can now swing a baseball bat

After about 50 years and more than 100 patients undergoing surgery, doctors have found success with a double hand transplant.

The US desperately needs computer science majors, so keep coding

There are more than 500,000 computing jobs open in the US right now.

The 2017 solar eclipse will help scientists figure out just how much energy we get from the sun

Reflections are tricky things — as we'll learn when August's total solar eclipse hits.

No, Mars didn’t grow 12 more moons — here’s what’s happening in this stunning picture

Mars and the mysteriously multiplying moon.

Scooby-Doo’s real name isn’t Scoobert Doobert

It's time to call Scooby by his real name.

Zion Harvey, youngest recipient of double hand transplant, can now swing a baseball bat

After about 50 years and more than 100 patients undergoing surgery, doctors have found success with a double hand transplant.