The following materials are accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired using a combination of Braille,
tactile techniques, and
descriptions in both
large format text and
audio formats, as well
as a collection of 3D
prints of cosmic objects.
Our Milky Way galaxy contains several hundred billion stars of all ages, sizes and masses – and there are billions of galaxies in the Universe. One of the central quests of astronomy is to understand how these stars form, shine for millions or billions of years, and eventually die.
A star forms when a dense cloud of gas collapses until nuclear reactions begin deep in the interior of the cloud and provide enough energy to halt the collapse. But the fate of a star depends on its mass.
This kit explores three examples of stellar objects in our own cosmic backyard, the Milky Way galaxy, that we can feel in 3D through the mapping of direct observations in the sky. The set includes a region of star birth, a mature star system, and an exploded star that left behind a dense core.
M16/Pillars of Creation
M16, also called the Pillars of Creation, is a nearby star-forming region. The Pillars, which are sometimes called elephant trunks due to their shape, are an example of the column-like shapes that develop in giant clouds of gas and dust that are the birthplaces of new stars. This 3D model depicts details about the orientation of the Pillars in space, mostly that the Pillars actually consist of several distinct pieces on either side of a star cluster. In this model, note that the relative distance between the pillars is not to scale.
This 3D print is based on combined high-resolution spectroscopic data from the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) with data from the Hubble Space Telescope by McLeod et al., 2015.
In the middle of the 19th century, the massive binary system Eta Carinae underwent an eruption that ejected at least 10 times the sun's mass and made it the second-brightest star in the sky. As a part of this event, which astronomers call the Great Eruption, the gaseous shell formed a twin-lobed dust-filled cloud known as the Homunculus Nebula, which is now about 10 trillion kilometers long and continues to expand at more than 2.1 million kilometers per hour. This 3D print of the Homunculus Nebula reveals protrusions, trenches, holes and irregularities in the gaseous material.
This 3D print is based on combined high-resolution spectroscopic data from the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) with data from the Hubble Space Telescope by Steffen et al., 2014.
The Crab Nebula is the remnant of a massive stellar explosion, or supernova, that was seen on Earth in 1054 AD. The nebula is about six light years across, or 60 trillion kilometers, and expanding outward at about 3 million miles per hour. At the center of the bright nebula is a rapidly spinning neutron star, or pulsar, that emits pulses of radiation 30 times a second. In this 3D print of the inner region of the nebula you'll notice a ringed disk, which is made up of energized material. Additionally, there is a pair of jets of particles firing off from opposite ends of the pulsar (the pulsar is hidden inside the ringed disk and cant be felt).
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Creator/Manager: Kimberly Arcand
Art Direction/Design: Kristin DiVona
Web Developer: Khajag Mgrdichian
Developed by the Chandra X-ray Center, at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Cambridge, MA, with funding by NASA under contract NAS8-03060 | Privacy | Accessibility
NASA's Universe of Learning materials are based upon work supported by NASA under award number NNX16AC65A to the Space Telescope Science Institute, working in partnership with Caltech/IPAC, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and Sonoma State University. | Privacy | Accessibility