Astronomers using ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at Paranal Observatory have captured a detailed image of a spectacular part of a star cloud called Messier 24.
Messier 24 lies approximately 10,000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius and is part of the Sagittarius or Sagittarius-Carina arms of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Also known as the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud, M24 or IC 4715, this star cloud has a diameter of 600 light-years.
It should not be confused with the nearby Large Sagittarius Star Cloud which lies about 10 degrees to the south.
Messier 24 was first spotted on June 20, 1764 by the French astronomers Charles Messier, who described it as a ‘large nebulosity containing many stars.’
It hosts several dark nebulae which are vast clouds of dense, obscuring interstellar dust.
“The two dark nebulae in the new VST image almost resemble something supernatural, like the wispy trails of ghosts in the sky,” ESO astronomers said.
“But there is no need to call the ghostbusters!”
These dark clouds are known as Barnard 92 (right) and Barnard 93 (left).
Barnard 92, which is the darker of the two nebulae, was discovered in 1913 by the American astronomer Edward Emerson.
“Barnard 92 and Barnard 93 look pitch black because the dense gas and dust they contain block out the background light, creating these hazy ghostlike features,” the researchers said.
“These nebulae are stellar nurseries, where new stars are born out of the collapsing dense gas and dust.”
This image is part of the VST Photometric Hα Survey of the Southern Galactic Plane and Bulge (VPHAS+), which has mapped diffuse nebulae as well as both young and evolved stars in the Milky Way.
It was obtained by the OmegaCAM instrument, an enormous 268-megapixel camera installed on the VST telescope.
“OmegaCAM is designed for capturing wide fields like this image, where you could impressively fit four full moons,” the scientists said.
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/vst-dark-nebulae-messier-24-11192.html