From Manu Garcia: “The Eagle Nebula, an eagle of cosmic proportions.”

Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

The universe around us.
Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

July 16, 2009.

ESO today released a new and stunning image of the sky around the Eagle Nebula , a stellar maternity ward where whole clusters are forged inside monstrous columns of gas and dust.

It is located at 7,000 away in the constellation Serpens (the Snake), light years from the Eagle Nebula is a dazzling stellar nursery, a region of gas and dust where young stars are continually forming; She including just born NGC 6611 , a cluster of massive, hot stars. The intense light and strong winds emitted by these massive stars, carved pillars of light years in length, whose silhouettes stand out in the picture on the bright background of the nebula. The nebula itself has a shape vaguely reminiscent of an eagle, where the central pillars would claws.

The star cluster was discovered in 1745-46 by the Swiss astronomer Jean Philippe Loys de Cheseaux. It was rediscovered independently twenty years later by the French comet hunter Charles Messier, who included it with the name of M16 in his famous catalog, noting that the stars were surrounded by a faint diffuse glow. The Eagle Nebula achieved fame in 1995 when its central pillars were photographed in the famous image obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope ESA / NASA .

Pillars of Creation. NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

In 2001, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) captured another striking image of the nebula (eso0142) in the near infrared, thus penetrating dust and clearly showing stars being formed in the pillars.

ESO/VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

The newly released image, obtained with the Wide Field Camera installed on the MPG / ESO telescope 2.2 meters at the La Silla Observatory in Chile , covers an area of sky the size of the full moon, this being a field 15 times larger than the previous image VLT and 200 times larger than the famous image Hubble in visible light.

MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

The whole region around the pillars can be seen in exquisite detail.

The “Pillars of Creation” are in the center of the image, accompanied, top right, the young star cluster NGC 6611 . The “Capitel” – another pillar captured by Hubble – is at the center left of the image.

Shaped structures fingers emerge from the massive wall of the cloud of gas and dust, as stalagmites emerging soil of a cave. Inside the pillars, the gas is dense enough to collapse under its own weight, forming young stars. These columns of gas and dust, light years long, are sculpted, illuminated and destroyed both by the intense ultraviolet radiation from massive stars in NGC 6611 , the adjacent young cluster. Within a few million years – a mere blink of the universal eye wide disappear forever.


More images from ESO

Digitized sky survey image of the Eagle Nebula

More … here

See the full article here .

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