1 min Space See the beauty of the Flame Nebula in this breathtaking photo

1 min Space See the beauty of the Flame Nebula in this breathtaking photo

The Flame Nebula, an emission nebula in the constellation Orion, was recorded in a new image produced by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The photo was taken by the APEX (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment) experiment using radio waves and also shows some of the objects present in the surroundings of the Flame.

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The record comes from observations conducted by Thomas Stanke, a former ESO astronomer, with his team. They wanted to try the SuperCam instrument, installed in the APEX, pointing the telescope at the constellation Orion. “As astronomers like to say, whenever there’s a new telescope or instrument available, we look to Orion, where there’s always something new and interesting to discover!” said Stanke.

The Flame Nebula appears on the left side of the area in yellow; on the right is the reflection nebula NGC 2023, and above it is the famous Horse’s Head (Image: Reproduction/ESO/Th. Stanke & ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit)

In the photo above, we see the Flame Nebula, an emission nebula that, inside, holds a cluster of young stars emitting highly energetic radiation, which makes the surrounding gases glow. Despite its name, there is no fire in this nebula — in fact, it is made up of extremely cold clouds whose temperatures are only a few degrees above absolute zero.

The Flame Nebula is in the constellation Orion, considered one of the most famous regions of the sky – so much so that it has already been investigated during different studies, which analyzed it to discover features visible only at certain wavelengths. In the photo, we find observations in infrared light, which make up the background of the image — unlike what happens with visible light, infrared can pass through interstellar dust clouds.

Thus, astronomers can discover stars and other objects that would otherwise be hidden from visible light. Orion is also home to large molecular clouds of hydrogen, forming new stars and planets. In addition to these objects, Stanke and his colleagues were also able to observe Messier 87 and NGC 2071. These are two reflection nebulae that, as the name implies, reflect the radiation emitted by nearby stars. Eventually, they even managed to identify a new, small, circular nebula, dubbed the “Cow Nebula.”

The article on the observations will be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and can be accessed in the arXiv online repository, without peer review.