In this unusual image, the Hubble Space Telescope captures a rare view of the celestial equivalent of a geode – a gas cavity carved by the stellar wind and intense ultraviolet radiation from a young hot star.
Hubble Peers Inside a Celestial Geode. Credit: ESA/NASA, Yäel Nazé (University of Liège, Belgium) and You-Hua Chu (University of Illinois, Urbana, USA)
Real geodes are handball-sized, hollow rocks that start out as bubbles in volcanic or sedimentary rock. Only when these inconspicuous round rocks are split in half by a geologist, do we get a chance to appreciate the inside of the rock cavity that is lined with crystals. In the case of Hubble’s 35 light-year diameter “celestial geode” the transparency of its bubble-like cavity of interstellar gas and dust reveals the treasures of its interior.