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Opaque globules in space
January 14, 2002
Strangely glowing, floating dark clouds are silhouetted against nearby bright stars in a busy star-forming region viewed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The dense, opaque dust clouds are known as globules. Globules are generally associated with large hydrogen-emitting star-formation regions, which give off the glowing light of hydrogen gas. Little is known about the origin and nature of these globules in IC 2944, which were first found by astronomer A.D. Thackeray in 1950. The largest globule in this image consists of two separate clouds that gently overlap along our line of sight. Each cloud is nearly 1.4 light-years along its longest dimension. Collectively, they contain enough material to equal more than 15 times the mass of our Sun. The surrounding hydrogen-rich region, IC 2944, is filled with gas and dust illuminated and heated by a loose cluster of stars that are much hotter and more massive than our Sun. IC 2944 is relatively close by, only 5,900 light-years away in the constellation Centaurus.
image: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

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