Thursday, May 23, 2024

Star-forming Region Messier 78 | Euclid Space Telescope | ESA

Star-forming Region Messier 78 | Euclid Space Telescope | ESA

This new Euclid space telescope image from the European Space Agency features the Messier 78 reflection nebula (the central and brightest region), a vibrant nursery of star formation enveloped in a shroud of interstellar dust. The image is the first of this young star-forming region at this width and depth. Messier 78 lies 1,300 light-years away in the constellation of Orion within our Milky Way galaxy. 

Euclid has used its infrared camera to expose hidden regions of star formation for the first time, mapping Messier 78's complex filaments of gas and dust in detail. This is the first time we have been able to see smaller, sub-stellar sized objects in Messier 78; the dark clouds of gas and dust usually hide them from view, but Euclid’s infrared ‘eyes’ can see through these obscuring clouds to explore within.

Euclid’s sensitive instruments can detect objects just a few times the mass of Jupiter, and its visible and infrared instruments—the visible instrument (VIS) and Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) cameras—reveal over 300,000 new objects in this field of view alone. Scientists are using this data to study the amount and ratio of stars and sub-stellar objects here. This is the key to understanding the dynamics of how star populations form and change over time. Sub-stellar objects like brown dwarfs and free-floating or ‘rogue’ planets are also one possible candidate for dark matter. While our current knowledge suggests that there are not enough of these objects to solve the mystery of dark matter in the Milky Way, it remains an open question, and one that Euclid seeks to answer by probing a significant fraction of our galaxy.

Also visible to the top of the frame is the bright nebula NGC 2071, and a third filament of star formation towards the bottom of the image (with a ‘traffic light’-like appearance). This lower region is a dark nebula producing lower-mass stars, all arranged along elongated filaments in space.

Image Description: A filamentary orange veil covers a bright region of star formation. The background is dark, stippled with stars and galaxies ranging from small bright dots to starry shapes. The foreground veil spans from upper left to the bottom right and resembles a seahorse. Bright stars light up the ‘eye’ and ‘chest’ regions of the seahorse with purple light. Within the tail, three bright spots sit in a traffic-light like formation.

Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA Image Processing: J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi

Release Date: May 23, 2024

#NASA #ESA #ESAEuclid #Astronomy #Space #Science #Stars #Nebulae #StellarNursery #Messier78 #Orion #Cosmos #Universe #EST #EuclidSpaceTelescope #Infrared #SpaceTelescope #Europe #STEM #Education

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