Reminders of Humility

For awhile now I’ve been in love with the beauty and complexity of star nebula. Some are visible from earth, appearing to us as discolored patches of the night sky. They are almost unfathomably large, collections of interstellar gas and dust, visible because of the light refracted within  them. Recent understanding of their complexity has been hatched by advancements in technology including the Hubble Telescope. Below are a few of the most breathtaking examples I know of:


Flaming Star Nebula

Dust and gaseous channels give this nebula its name. The various colors are achieved through different processes and temperatures of combustion. In some areas the kinetic levels are so high they repel electrons. The Flaming Star Nebula’s official name is IC405, and is located in the constellation of the Charioteer, about 1500 light-years away. The constellation itself spans around five light- years.

crab nebula hubble telescope

Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula is one of the most amazing in our zodiac for several reasons. Located in the constellation Taurus, it is one of only a handful that can be seen from Earth without a superpowered telescope, and the only that can be seen with as little as binoculars, conditions permitting. The formation was originally documented in 1054 when it was visible with the naked eye. Scientists have found that the nebula underwent expansion around the same time, and likely became visible then because of the radiation of a single pulsar star. It is given its name because of its crab-like shape. The image below is one of the widest and most comprehensive ever taken from the Hubble Telescope.

pillars of creation

Pillars of Creation

Taken April 1, 1995 the shown image of the Pillars of Creation is taken with four different cameras and is one of the most famous ever taken by the Hubble Telescope. Located in the Eagle Nebula it made of cool hydrogen and dust. It is roughly 7000 light-years from Earth and four light-years long. The Pillars of Creation earn their name for several reasons, other than their ominous appearance. The nebula is in the process of forming new stars but is also eroding from the light of stars it creates. Images taken with the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered a cloud of hot dust thought to be a shock wave from a supernova, indicating the nebula’s destruction. If correct, the nebula would have been destroyed around 6000 years ago but because of the speed light travels will not be visible for about 1000 years. Although likely, the observation’s suggestion is still disputed.


Carina Nebula

Above is the most detailed image of the Carina Nebula ever taken. Like the Pillars of Creation it is made of hydrogen and dust. Shown here in 28 high-resolution photographs, NGC3372, its official name, is one of the largest star-birth regions in the galaxy. The Nebula is three light-years tall and contains star Eta Carinae, one of the brightest stars visible from earth until its rapid fading around 1830. It is eroding both externally from the light of nearby stars and internally from the gas expulsion of consumed stars.


About The Scale of Kings
Jacob King began TSoK in 2010, after working with Huniford Design Studio in New York. King has collaborated with publications such as Esquire and Essential Homme. He now lives in Thailand as an ESL instructor.

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