Monday, June 10, 2024

Gum 3 Nebula in Canis Major | European Southern Observatory

Gum 3 Nebula in Canis Major | European Southern Observatory

This picture shows the brightly colored Gum 3 nebula as seen with the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), hosted at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Attentive viewers may find that part of Gum 3 resembles a Koi fish in this VST image. Equipped with the OmegaCAM instrument, an enormous 268-megapixel camera, the telescope is designed to survey large areas of the southern sky in visible light and take images like this one.

Gum 3 is an interstellar cloud of gas and dust located about 3,600 light-years away between the Monoceros and Canis Major constellations. It is named after Colin Stanley Gum, an Australian astronomer who catalogued 84 nebulae in the southern sky. 

When the intense ultraviolet radiation from nearby young stars hits hydrogen atoms in the cloud, they emit visible light at very specific colors. We see these as shades of red and pink in the image. At the same time, tiny particles of dust within the cloud reflect starlight, especially blue colors, similar to what makes the sky look blue here on Earth. This play of colors makes nebulae like this spectacular to look at.

This image shows not only color, but also the lack of it. Look closely at the area just right of the brightest part of the cloud—right of the pink “Koi-smic fish”. Does anything look odd to you? It is not that there really are fewer stars in this dark area; instead, there is a big clump of dust that blocks part of the visible light, hiding the stars from VST and us.

Image Description: Most of the image is taken up by a cloud-like structure in shades of red and hot pink. It is hazy and wispy with areas, especially in the bottom half, brighter than others, and it stretches from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the frame. Bright white stars shine through gaps in the structure; the one on the top right end is the largest, with red and blue-green rays coming out of it. Surrounding the cloud are thousands of stars of varying sizes and colors over a dark background.

Credit: ESO/VPHAS+ team. 

Ack.: CASU

Release Date: June 10, 2024

#NASA #ESO #Space #Astronomy #Science #Nebulae #Nebula #Cederblad90 #Gum3 #CanisMajor #Constellation #MilkyWayGalaxy #Cosmos #Universe #VLTSurveyTelescope #OmegaCAM #ParanalObservatory #Chile #SouthAmerica #Europe #STEM #Education

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