January 21, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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New pictures of amazing interstellar clouds have been captured

The observations were made by the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, operated by the European Southern Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert.

Orion is not just a famous constellation. This region of the sky is also where huge clouds of hydrogen give birth to new stars and planets. The molecular cloud is located 1,300-1,600 light-years away from our planet.

In the center of the Flame Nebula is a group of young stars. These stars emit high-energy radiation, causing gas clouds to glow brightly.

The new images are the result of observations made a few years ago by Thomas Stank, a former astronomer at the European Southern Observatory, and his team. Newly processed images of the Flame Nebula, along with other comments, have been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and astrophysicsAnd

The facelift for Orion came after the Supercam tool was installed in the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment. The instrument is designed to observe molecular clouds in the Milky Way. In this particular research, the team used it to look for radio waves from carbon monoxide in Orion’s clouds.

“As astronomers like to say, whenever there is a new telescope or instrument, watch Orion: there will always be something new and interesting to discover!” Stanke said in a statement.

While observing the Flame Nebula and its surroundings, the scientists also observed clouds reflecting the light of nearby stars and discovered a new, smaller globular nebula, which they named the Cow Nebula. SuperCAM can help astronomers map these stellar nurseries where stars are born.

The Flame Nebula dominates the left half of the yellow rectangle in the image below. The nebula on the right is a reflection of NGC 2023 and above it on the right is the Horsehead Nebula.

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Scroll back and forth to see the difference in the background, one captured in infrared light with the visible and infrared astronomy telescope at Paranal Observatory in Chile, and the other in visible light from Digitalized Sky Survey 2.

Due to the popularity of Orion, binoculars with many wavelengths of light passed through this part of the sky.

Despite the fiery appearance of the Flame Nebula, the clouds are extremely cold and only reach a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. Absolute zero is negative 273.15 degrees Celsius or negative 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit.