A new image from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile shows a beautiful view of clouds of cosmic dust in the region of Orion.
“While these dense interstellar clouds seem dark and obscured in visible-light observations, APEX’s LABOCA camera can detect the heat glow of the dust and reveal the hiding places where new stars are being formed.But one of these dark clouds is not what it seems”.
In space, dense clouds of cosmic gas and dust are the birthplaces of new stars. In visible light, this dust is dark and obscuring, hiding the stars behind it. In order to better understand star formation, astronomers need telescopes that can observe at longer wavelengths. APEX, on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes, is the largest single-dish submillimetre-wavelength telescope operating in the southern hemisphere, and is ideal for ESO astronomers studying the birth of stars in this way reaching New Heights in Astronomy.
Located in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter), 1500 light-years away from Earth, the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth, a treasury of bright nebulae, dark clouds and young stars.
“The new image shows just part of this vast complex in visible light. The bright patch below of the centre of the image is the nebula NGC 1999. This region when seen in visible light is what astronomers call a reflection nebula, where the pale blue glow of background starlight is reflected from clouds of dust. The nebula is mainly illuminated by the energetic radiation from the young star V380 Orionis lurking at its heart”.
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have also seen a key stage in the birth of giant planets and vast streams of gas flowing across a gap in the disc of material around a young star. These are the first direct observations of such streams, which are expected to be created by giant planets guzzling gas as they grow. According to theory, the giant planets grow by capturing gas from the outer disc, in streams that form bridges across the gap in the disc. Read more…
Source: ESOAt blooms – SCIENCE, POLICY & DEVELOPMENTS