Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Gum 46: A Bubblegum-pink Nebula | European Southern Observatory

Gum 46: A Bubblegum-pink Nebula | European Southern Observatory

This picture shows Gum 46, a stunning gas cloud 5,500 light-years away, observed in brand new detail with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. 

Why does it glow pink?

At the heart of Gum 46 there’s a young, hot, and blue star called HD311999. Its intense radiation excites atoms in the surrounding gas. It then re-emits this energy at very specific colors or wavelengths. The pink shade that dominates this image is due to hydrogen atoms, the most abundant element in this nebula and the Universe as a whole.

The dark wispy clouds that surround the nebula make for a stunning sight too. These clouds are not intrinsically dark. They are extremely dense regions of dust that block light passing through them, enshrouding the glowing heart of Gum 46.

This image was created as part of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Cosmic Gems program, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects using ESO telescopes, for the purposes of education and public outreach. The program makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes, and are made available to astronomers through ESO’s science archive.

Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Release Date: May 13, 2024

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