The Hubble Space Telescope, which is operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, shared a beautiful image of a cosmic object known as an emission Nebula. As explained by astronomers, the nebula contains the necessary materials to form stars and even planets.

The subject, featured in Hubble's photo as the Flame Nebula, is located about 1,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion. This is essentially how the stars are formed.

Flame Nebula
Photo of the Flame Nebula in the Orion constellation. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Flame Nebula's Star And Planet-Forming Materials

According to scientists, the nebula is composed of clusters that support star formations. This is mainly due to the abundance of cosmic materials available in the region such as gas and dust. These clusters have circumstellar disks, each of which features a collection of different materials. Since some of these disks contain large bodies such as asteroids, the materials in these regions can also accumulate to become planets.

"There's a cluster of stars in the center which still have circumstellar disks; an accumulation of material like gas, dust, & asteroids which orbit in the shape of a ring around a star," The Hubble Scope page explained in a statement. "This is the stuff that planets are made of. Planets are formed from the leftovers of a star."

Age Difference of Flame Nebula Stars

A closer look at the Flame Nebula revealed that the stars that formed on its outskirts are much older than the ones in its central regions. This goes against conventional star formation models that suggest stellar objects are first formed in the center of gas and dust clouds.

As noted by NASA, it is possible that the process of star formation moved within the central regions of the nebula after the density of star-forming clouds on the outskirts decreased. After the birth of new stars ceased in these regions, the formation process was transferred to the inner regions.

NASA stated that this could explain why the nebula's inner stars are much younger than those in its outer regions. "Over time, if the density falls below a threshold value where it can no longer collapse to form stars, star formation will cease in the outer regions, whereas stars will continue to form in the inner regions, leading to a concentration of younger stars there," NASA stated.