Infinite Minute #6: S106, A Cosmic Cauldron

Uploaded by tdarnell on 09.11.2011

This is where stars are born.
Here, in this cosmic cauldron, in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan some 2,000 light years
away, massive stars are beginning their lives. Born only about 100,000 years ago, material
streaming from this newborn star has formed a nebula, known as Sharpless 2-106.
Through the crush of gravity, the atoms in this exquisite nebula are right now coalescing
to release one of the most powerful forces of nature: stellar fusion.
In these clouds reside the genesis of that which reside in every human being. Here we
see a large disk of dust and gas orbiting an infrared source known simply as IRS 4,
its light ionizing the surrounding gas in a wonderous emission nebula spanning some
2 light years.
It is through the lives of the stars born in this nursery, and other like it throughout
the universe, we become possible. The hydrogen and helium atoms that glow through the light
of the nascent stars deep inside this cloud become the fuel through which stars shine.
As these stars burn, they create all the elements needed for us to exist: carbon, nitrogen,
oxygen, iron and a host of others are produced ONLY in the fusion reactions of stars, they
are available to us nowhere else.
Here, in this cloud, we are witnessing our birth, the stars are our ancestors, and we
are their progeny.