ESOs Very Large Telescope peers into a distant nebula*

Eso_potw1044a_1024

eso_potw1044a November 1st, 2010

Credit: ESO/R. Chini

Astronomers using data from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, have made an impressive composite of the nebula Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula. The painting-like image shows vast clouds of gas and dust illuminated by the intense radiation from young stars. The image shows a central region about 15 light-years across, although the entire nebula is even larger, about 40 light-years in total. Messier 17 is in the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer), about 6000 light-years from Earth. It is a popular target for amateur astronomers, who can obtain good quality images using small telescopes.These deep VLT observations were made at near-infrared wavelengths with the ISAAC instrument. The filters used were J (1.25 m, shown in blue), H (1.6 m, shown in green), and K (2.2 m, shown in red). In the centre of the image is a cluster of massive young stars whose intense radiation makes the surrounding hydrogen gas glow. To the lower right of the cluster is a huge cloud of molecular gas. At visible wavelengths, dust grains in the cloud obscure our view, but by observing in infrared light, the glow of the hydrogen gas behind the cloud can be seen shining faintly through. Hidden in this region, which has a dark reddish appearance, the astronomers found the opaque silhouette of a disc of gas and dust. Although it is small in this image, the disc has a diameter of about 20 000 AU, dwarfing our Solar System (1 AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun). It is thought that this disc is rotating and feeding material onto a central protostar an early stage in the formation of a new star. Links The research for which these observations were originally made was described in ESO press release eso0416.

Provider: European Southern Observatory

Image Source: https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1044a/

Curator: European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, None, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
M 17 Messier 17 Omega Nebula
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Appearance > Emission
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Eso_potw1044a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 18h 20m 38.5s
DEC = -16° 8’ 31.4”
Orientation
North is 180.0° CCW
Field of View
6.1 x 6.2 arcminutes
Constellation
Sagittarius

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue VLT (ISAAC) Infrared (J) 1.3 µm
Green VLT (ISAAC) Infrared (H) 1.6 µm
Red VLT (ISAAC) Infrared (K) 2.2 µm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Green
Red
Eso_potw1044a_1280
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ID
potw1044a
Subject Category
B.4.2.1   B.4.1.2  
Subject Name
M 17, Messier 17, Omega Nebula
Credits
ESO/R. Chini
Release Date
2010-11-01T10:00:00
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1044a/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Very Large Telescope, Very Large Telescope, Very Large Telescope
Instrument
ISAAC, ISAAC, ISAAC
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
J, H, K
Central Wavelength
1250, 1600, 2200
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
275.16034, -16.14205
Reference Dimension
2487.0, 2513.0
Reference Pixel
2176.69889723, 2195.76276851
Scale
-4.11029e-05, 4.11029e-05
Rotation
179.97846015481
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
European Southern Observatory
URL
http://www.eso.org/
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
None
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher
European Southern Observatory
Publisher ID
eso
Resource ID
potw1044a
Metadata Date
2010-10-06T11:14:43+02:00
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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There is no distance meta data in this image.