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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Sh2-54. The Sharpless Nebula 2-54. Pictures of the European Astronomical Observatory. A cosmic serpent crawls in a stellar nursery

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Young stars in the constellation of the Serpent were captured by the European Astronomical Observatory’s telescope. The Sharpless 2-54 nebula at the center of the image is one of the “stellar nurseries” or regions where star formation takes place. Thanks to measuring instruments, we can see it in visible light and in the infrared.

The constellation of the Serpent was named for its elongated, winding shape. The ancients who gave it its name, however, were unable to see all its details, including the beautiful nebulae located in its “tail”. One of them, Sharpless 2-54, can be admired thanks to the work of the European Astronomical Observatory (ESO).

Star birthplaces

As ESO scientists explain, the Sharpless nebula 2-54 is a star-forming region. This huge cloud of cosmic gas and dust is about 6,000 light years from our corner of the universe. For an observer on Earth, these objects are quite faintly visible to the naked eye, so special instruments are necessary to observe them.

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The image below was taken by the VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The equipment can record astronomical objects in two light ranges – visible and infrared. While visible light is absorbed by the dust in the nebula, infrared light can pass through the dust clouds virtually unhindered.

Nebula in the constellation of the Serpent seen in infrared lightESO/VVVX

In the image we see young celestial bodies that are usually obscured by dust veils. Scientists emphasize that this way of observing allows them to study in more detail what is happening in the “stellar nurseries”, and thus to find out how stars are formed.

In addition to the infrared image, ESO has also released a view of Sharpless 2-54 in visible light. It shows very well clouds of cosmic dust, which in the future may be used to form other celestial bodies.

A nebula in the constellation of the Serpent in visible lightESO

Main photo source: ESO/VVVX

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