This breathtaking image in visible light, taken with the Gemini South telescope, looks like it’s ready to flutter from the screen. This apparently tattered object is an outflow of gas known as the Chamaeleon Infrared Nebula – so named because it is light at some infrared wavelengths of light, although it can also be seen in visible light, as in this image. Hidden in the core of this reflection nebula and in the center of this image is the engine of the nebula, a low-mass star (less massive than our sun) obscured by a dark vertical band. Though out of sight, this young, cool star emits streams of fast-moving gas that have cut a tunnel through the interstellar cloud from which the young star is formed. Infrared and visible light emitted by the star escapes along this tunnel and spreads from its walls, giving rise to the vague reflection nebula.
The bright red object to the right of the center of the image marks where some of the fast gas flow lights up after colliding with slower gas in the fog. It is known as a Herbig-Haro (HH) object and has the designation HH 909A. Other Herbig-Haro objects have been found along the outflow axis of the star beyond the edges of the image to the right and left.
Astronomers have suggested that the dark band in the center of the infrared Chamaeleon nebula is a circumferential disk – a reservoir of gas and dust orbiting the star. Circumstellar disks are typically associated with young stars and provide the materials needed to build planets. The reason why the disk appears as a band rather than a circle in this image is because it is edge-on, revealing only one edge to observers here on Earth. Astronomers believe that the central star of the nebula is a young star object embedded in the disk.
The background nebula shown in blue in this image reflects light from a nearby star located outside the frame.
Chamaeleon The infrared nebula is located within the larger Chamaeleon I dark cloud, which is adjacent to Chamaeleon II and Chamaeleon III dark clouds. Together, these three dark clouds make up the Chamaeleon Complex, a large area of star formation that occupies almost the entire constellation Chamaeleon in the southern sky.
The detail in this image is thanks to the southern edition of the twin Gemini Multi-Object Spectrographs (GMOS), located on top of Cerro Pachón in Chile at Gemini South, part of the International Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab. GMOS has imaging capabilities in addition to being a spectrograph, making it a versatile instrument.
“GMOS-South is the perfect instrument to make this observation because of its field of view, which can capture the entire nebula well, and because of its ability to capture the emission from the ionized gas of the nebula,” said NOIRLab instrument scientist German Gimeno.
Image: Hubble detects vortices of dust in the flame nebula
Provided by NOIRLab
Citation: Gemini South Telescope Captures a Single-winged Butterfly (2021, December 7) Retrieved December 7, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-12-gemini-south-telescope-one-winged-butterfly.html
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