Astronomers using ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope have produced a spectacularly detailed image of the emission nebula IC 4701.
This OmegaCAM/VST image shows IC 4701, an emission nebula located in the constellation of Sagittarius. Image credit: ESO / VPHAS+ team / Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit.
IC 4701, otherwise known as LBN 55 or NRL 18, is an emission nebula located in the constellation of Sagittarius.
This object was discovered by the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard in August 1905.
“IC 4701 is twice as wide as the full Moon in the sky,” ESO astronomers said.
“The energetic light from newly-born stars ionizes the hydrogen gas in the nebula, causing it to emit the intense reddish hue seen in this picture.”
“The dark clouds in this image contain large amounts of interstellar dust, too dense for the light of the background stars to pierce through it.”
The new image of IC 4701 is made up of observations from the OmegaCAM instrument on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope in the optical part of the spectrum.
The picture is based on data obtained through five optical filters.
“The IC 4701 nebula is part of a rich and vast complex of dust and gas within which new stars spring to life,” the researchers said.
“When stars are born, most of them are cooler, redder, and less massive than our own Sun.”
“Hotter, more massive stars are much rarer, and they quickly burn through all their fuel and die.”
“This makes these brilliant blue and massive stars, and their surrounding glowing gas, beacons of recent star formation.”
Source : Breaking Science News