Munich, July 8 (ANI): A new image captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has reveled the Omega Nebula, a stellar nursery where infant stars illuminate and sculpt a vast pastel fantasy of dust and gas, in all its glory.
The Omega Nebula, sometimes called the Swan Nebula, is a dazzling stellar nursery located about 5500 light-years away towards the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer).
An active star-forming region of gas and dust about 15 light-years across, the nebula has recently spawned a cluster of massive, hot stars.
The intense light and strong winds from these hulking infants have carved remarkable filigree structures in the gas and dust.
When seen through a small telescope, the nebula has a shape that reminds some observers of the final letter of the Greek alphabet, omega, while others see a swan with its distinctive long, curved neck.
Swiss astronomer Jean-Philippe Loys de Cheseaux discovered the nebula around 1745. The French comet hunter Charles Messier independently rediscovered it about twenty years later and included it as number 17 in his famous catalogue.
In a small telescope, the Omega Nebula appears as an enigmatic ghostly bar of light set against the star fields of the Milky Way.
In recent years, astronomers have discovered that the Omega Nebula is one of the youngest and most massive star-forming regions in the Milky Way.
Active star-birth started a few million years ago and continues through today.
The newly released image, obtained with the EMMI instrument attached to the ESO 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) at La Silla, Chile, shows the central region of the Omega Nebula in exquisite detail.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has also imaged small parts of this nebula.
At the left of the image, a huge and strangely box-shaped cloud of dust covers the glowing gas.
The fascinating palette of subtle color shades across the image comes from the presence of different gases (mostly hydrogen, but also oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur) that are glowing under the fierce ultraviolet light radiated by the hot young stars. (ANI)