New image of the Cone Nebula unveiled

(ORDO NEWS) — The European Southern Observatory (ESO), on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, has unveiled a new image of the diffuse Cone Nebula taken with the VLT (Very Large Telescope) telescope in Chile.

Discovered in the late 18th century by astronomer William Herschel, the Cone Nebula is part of the larger star-forming region NGC 2264 in the constellation Monoceros.

NGC 2264 is an open cluster of stars that is gradually destroying the gas and dust cloud from which it formed.

A characteristic feature of the Cone Nebula, 2500 light-years distant from Earth, is a “pillar” formed by a dark absorbing nebula about seven light-years long and directed away from bright stars.

A structure like this tends to form in giant clouds of cold molecular gas and dust where new stars form.

Newborn bright blue luminaries emit stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation, which helps to “blow out” material from the surroundings.

In this case, gas and dust located far from young stars are compressed into dense, dark and extended columnar forms.

In an image taken with the FORS2 spectrograph at the VLT, hydrogen gas in the faint emission nebula behind the pillar is shown in blue, while sulfur gas is shown in red.

Hydrogen is ionized by the brightest star NGC 2264 – S Monoceros. Because of the filters, the white-blue stars have acquired a golden hue.

The image was taken as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems program, an initiative to obtain interesting, intriguing or visually appealing space objects for educational purposes.

This uses the time of the telescope, which cannot be spent on scientific observations.


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