Another Cat Picture on the Web

The Cat's Paw RemasteredNot the whole cat, just his paw. This is the Cat’s Paw Nebula (aka NGC 6334). It’s found in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). Although it appears to be close to the center of the Milky Way in the sky, it is relatively near to Earth, about 5500 light-years away. It’s about 50 light-years across.

The Cat’s Paw is one of the most active star formation regions in the galaxy, containing massive, brilliant blue stars which have formed within the last few million years. It probably contains on the order of ten thousand stars. but many are hidden from view by the dust clouds fueling the rapid star formation.

Image Credit: ESO

BTW, not all catspaws are in space.

M47

The star cluster Messier 47This picture of the star cluster Messier 47 was taken using the Wide Field Imager camera, installed on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. M47 is centered about 1,600 light-years away and is only about 78 million years old. The young open cluster is dominated by a sprinkling of brilliant blue stars but also contains a few contrasting red giant stars.

Image Credit: ESO

Clearer Infrared Vision

The Very Large Telescope at ESO in Chile, has a new infrared sensor called ERIS. This ERIS image reveals the inner region of the galaxy NGC 1097, showing the gaseous and dusty ring that lies at the very center of the galaxy. The bright spots in the ring are stellar nurseries. The image was taken using four different filters by ERIS’s infrared imager, the Near Infrared Camera System (NIX). ERIS will be an upgrade from the pevious NACO imager.

Video Credit: ESO

The Helix Nebula in IR

Helix_VISTAESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) captured this infrared view of the Helix Nebula (aka NGC 7293). The planetary nebula is labout 700 light-years away. This false color picture was created from images taken through three different infrared filters. The telescope’s infrared vision reveals cold nebular gas that is mostly obscured in visible images of the Helix.

Image Credit: ESO / VISTA / J. Emerson.
Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

A Ground-Based View of a GRB


Last week, I posted a view of a recently observed Gamma Ray Burst as seen by the X-ray Telescope abort the Swift satellite. This is what it looked like as seen by the Very Large Telescope at the European Souther Observatory in Chile. The GRB is the red spot near the middle of the image.

After the initial bright flash of a GRB has faded, the afterglow shines at longer wavelengths of visible and infrared light. The team at ESO was able to gather data to show  burst originated from an extremely distant galaxy when the universe was only 6% of its current age. This was one of the oldest GRB yet detected.

Image Credit: ESO

The Fornax Dwarf

Fornax_dwarf_galaxyThe Fornax Dwarf Spheroidal is an elliptical dwarf galaxy found in the constellation Fornax. The galaxy is a satellite of the Milky Way and is receding from the us at 53 km/s. It contains six know globular star clusters, an unusually large number for such a small galaxy. Four of them (Fornax 1, 2, 3, and 5) are pictured below.

Image Credits: ESO and ESA

A Cluster of Galaxies

FornaxClusterNamed for the southern constellation in whose part of the sky most of its galaxies can be found, the Fornax Cluster is one of the closest clusters of galaxies. At an average of 62 million light-years away, it is almost 20 times more distant than the nearby Andromeda Galaxy. Almost every yellow blob in this two-degree-wide image is an elliptical galaxy in the cluster. The barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 that stands out in the lower right is a member of the cluster.

Image Credit: ESO

Sharpless 2-274

ESO’s Very Large Telescope images the Medusa NebulaESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile captured this image of the Medusa Nebula (also known Abell 21 and Sharpless 2-274). As the star at the heart of this nebula made its final transition into the final stage of its existence, it blew off its outer layers into space, forming this colorful cloud. The Sun will go through a similar process in a few billion years.

Image Credit: ESO

Climate Change on Neptune

These thermal images taken from Neptune were taken with the VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Taken between 2006 and 2021, they show Neptune gradually cooling down, followed by a dramatic heating of its south pole in the last few years. From 2003 to 2018 Neptune’s average temperature dropped about 8 °C, and over the next three years it spiked 11 °C hotter.

Video Credit: ESO