NASA often shares images of Earth and space that amaze users on social media. This time around, the space agency shared not one but four images of nebulae – gaseous clouds forming stars – on its official Instagram page. Sharing the breathtaking images, NASA wrote in the caption, “The stars: they’re like us! Before you ask how we are like celestial bodies, legend adds that even stars are “made up of hydrogen, helium and carbon”. Providing context for the images, NASA said the four nebulae captured in the photos are the Eagle Nebula, the Omega Nebula, the Trifid Nebula and the Lagoon Nebula.
On the Instagram post, NASA said, “Nebulae are clouds of gas and dust forming breathtaking stars. Pictured are four of the most famous known nebula images captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope: the Eagle Nebula (which contains the Pillars of Creation), the Omega Nebula, the Trifid Nebula and the Lagoon Nebula.
Legend further says that nebulae exist in interstellar space, which is the space between stars. “The closest known nebula to Earth contains the remains of a dying star – possibly like our Sun, called the Helix Nebula.”
So how far are we from the nearest nebula? According to NASA, it would take us several hundred years to get there. “At around 700 light years away, even if you could travel at the speed of light, it would still take you 700 years to get there,” the legend says.
Reacting to the image, a user named ‘Joejoeboddie’ said, ‘Just… beautiful. Another user with the username “Raha Iran 72” said: “How tiny we are! It’s breathtaking.
One user, “Spellbounded”, wrote: “Satisfactory. This is my reason for continuing. Most of the others left heart-shaped emojis in the comments section.
According to NASA, a team of astronomers in the 1950s made “rough distance measurements to some of the stars in these four nebulae.” As a result of this, the team were able to deduce the existence of the Sagittarius arm, which in turn provided some of the earliest evidence of our galaxy’s spiral structure.
The word nebula is derived from the Latin word for cloud or fog.