The latest image follows on from views, released over the last two weeks, of the sky as seen with the unaided eye and through an amateur telescope. This third instalment provides another breathtaking vista of an astronomical object, this time a 370-million-pixel view of the Lagoon Nebula of the quality and depth needed by professional astronomers in their quest to understand our Universe.
The newly released image extends across a field of view of more than one and a half square degree — an area eight times larger than that of the full Moon — and was obtained with the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. This 67-million-pixel camera has already created several of ESO’s iconic pictures.
The intriguing object depicted here — the Lagoon Nebula — is located four to five thousand light-years away towards the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer). The nebula is a giant interstellar cloud, 100 light-years across, where stars are forming. The scattered dark patches seen all over the nebula are huge clouds of gas and dust that are collapsing under their own weight and which will soon give birth to clusters of young, glowing stars. Some of the smallest clouds are known as “globules” and the most prominent ones have been catalogued by the astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard.
The third image of the GigaGalaxy Zoom project was taken with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the ESO La Silla Observatory. In order to optimise telescope time, the images were obtained by ESO staff astronomers, who select the most favourable observations to be made at any given time, taking into account the visibility of the objects and the sky conditions. The La Silla Observatory, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres, has been an ESO stronghold since the 1960s. Here, ESO operates several of the most productive 2–4-metre-class telescopes in the world.Contacts
Dr. Henri Boffin | EurekAlert!
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