The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures a captivating scene awash in red hues.This image unveils a segment of the Westerhout 5 nebula, situated approximately 7,000 light-years away from Earth. Illuminated by vivid red light, the picture showcases various intriguing elements, including a free-floating Evaporating Gaseous Globule (frEGG), visible as a small tadpole-shaped dark region in the upper center-left, bearing the dual designations of [KAG2008] globule 13 and J025838.6+604259.
FrEGGs, a distinct subclass of Evaporating Gaseous Globules (EGGs), represent denser gas regions resistant to photoevaporation compared to their less dense surroundings. Photoevaporation, induced by intense ultraviolet (UV) light from young, hot stars, ionizes and disperses gas. EGGs were identified relatively recently, notably at the tips of the iconic Pillars of Creation captured by Hubble in 1995. FrEGGs, classified even more recently, stand out due to their detached, ‘head-tail’ shape. Both frEGGs and EGGs are of particular interest because their density shields the gas within from ionization and photoevaporation, making them potential sites for protostar formation.
The dark frEGG in the sea of red light draws attention against the backdrop of H-alpha emission, a type of light emission resulting from the release of distinctive red light when a highly energetic electron within a hydrogen atom loses a specific amount of energy. This arresting image not only captivates with its autumnal aesthetic but also offers valuable insights into the intricate processes of gas and star formation within cosmic landscapes.