From Manu Garcia at IAC: “The heart of the scorpion”


Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

The globular cluster Messier 4, Credits: Daniel López / IAC.

This Photograph, obtained with the remote astrograph of the iac’s scientific communication and culture unit in the framework of the project “Niépce: from negative to positive”, shows the beautiful palette of colors in the central region of this constellation.

Few places in the sky, seen from the earth, have as many chromatic variety as the heart of the scorpion heart, whose brightest star is antares, the yellow star from the top slightly to the left of the image. The location of this constellation, close to the core of our galaxy, the milky way, is clear among the hundreds of thousands of stars that appear distributed evenly throughout the image. The color is given by the different types of dust and gas clouds present. The Red corresponds to the hydrogen regions aroused by the stars, emission nebulae. Blue and yellow, to star light reflected by gas and dust, reflection nebulae. The dark regions are dusty clouds retroiluminadas, so dense, they don’t let the light pass, Dark Nebulae.

It highlights a particular object, fossil of the formation of our galaxy, the globular cluster Messier 4, a swarm of hundreds of thousands of stars surviving from the origin of the milky way, more than 12 billion years ago. A more detailed inspection of the image allows us to detect two more globular clusters: M 80 and NGC 6144. As almost always, we see objects located at different planes: the brightest stars and are the closest objects, in the first Flat, located about 500 Light-years away. The other stars of our galaxy’s record create a thick, Starry Mantle, while globular clusters are at various distances. M4 is the closest of the 150 Globular Clusters (old) known to orbit the milky way, finding some 7.000 Light-years away. M 80 and NGC 6144 are 4 OR 5 times further away, which is why they do not stand out in the image.

Daniel López / IAC.

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The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).
The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in Garafía (La Palma).

These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreachactivities.

The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, SpainGran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC