RCW 79

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RCW 79
emission nebula
RCW 79 (Emission nebula).jpg
A Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) image of RCW 79
Credit: SST/NASA/JPL
Observation data: J2000.0 epoch
Right ascension 13h 40m 47.3s[1]
Declination −61° 42′ 5.1″[1]
Distance 17,200[1] ly   (4000 pc)
Apparent dimensions (V) 24′.5 x 24′.5 arcmins[1]
Constellation Centaurus
Designations Gum 48c
See also: Lists of nebulae

RCW 79 is an emission nebula in the constellation Centaurus.

A cosmic bubble of gas and dust, RCW 79 has grown to about 70 light-years in diameter, blown by the winds and radiation from hot young stars. Infrared light from the dust embedded in the nebula is tinted red in this gorgeous false-color view from the Spitzer Space Telescope. A good 17 thousand light-years away in the grand southern constellation Centaurus, the expanding nebula itself has triggered star formation as it plows into the gas and dust surrounding it. In fact, this penetrating infrared picture reveals groups of new stars as yellowish points scattered along the bubble's edge. One remarkable group still lies within its own natal bubble at about 7 o'clock (lower left), while another can be seen near the upper gap at about 3 o'clock (right) from the bubble's center.[2]

This 1.7 million year old nebula forms a ring around a central ionising star. A 2002 paper gives a distance of 5300 +/- 400 parsecs and identifies the ionising star, which is visible in both hydrogen-alpha and infrared, as either a late O-class star or Wolf-Rayet star but does not cite a catalog identifier.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope easily detects infrared light from the dust particles in RCW 79. The young stars within RCW79 radiate ultraviolet light that excites molecules of dust within the bubble. This causes the dust grains to emit infrared light that is detected by Spitzer and seen here as the extended red features.[2]

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