By Scott Bailey © 2013

Caressed by the wide sea
Corals catch the new child
Carry her to the shore
Colliding with bright fate
Climbing into the sky
Coronal light shines out
Cascading to the sea

The Seven Sisters, also known as the Pleiades, seem to float on a bed of feathers in a new infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Clouds of dust sweep around the stars, swaddling them in a cushiony veil.
The Pleiades, located more than 400 light-years away in the Taurus constellation, are the subject of many legends and writings. Greek mythology holds that the flock of stars was transformed into celestial doves by Zeus to save them from a pursuant Orion. The 19th-century poet Alfred Lord Tennyson described them as “glittering like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.”
By NASA/JPL-Caltech/J. Stauffer (SSC/Caltech) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The new infrared image from Spitzer highlights the “tangled silver braid” mentioned in the poem by Tennyson. This spider-web like network of filaments, colored yellow, green and red in this view, is made up of dust associated with the cloud through which the cluster is traveling. The densest portion of the cloud appears in yellow and red, and the more diffuse outskirts appear in green hues. One of the parent stars, Atlas, can be seen at the bottom, while six of the sisters are visible at top.
The Spitzer data also reveals never-before-seen brown dwarfs, or “failed stars,” and disks of planetary debris (not pictured). John Stauffer of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope says Spitzer’s infrared vision allows astronomers to better study the cooler, lower-mass stars in the region,

Originally published in A Spring of Dreams

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Calaeno