To celebrate his 60e anniversary, the ESO has decided to give us a gift of a true marvel. The enigmatic Cone Nebula and its dizzying star factory like you’ve never seen before.
They were only five originally. In October 1962. 60 years ago. Five States to engage in the development and operation of observatories on the Chilean side under the banner of theEuropean Southern Observatory (ESO). They are now sixteen. Member States and strategic partners. And they chose to celebrate this anniversary in the most beautiful way. By unveiling a marvelous image of the Cone Nebula.
Recall that the Cone Nebula was discovered at the end of the 18th century.e century. By German-British astronomer William Herschel. It is located in the open cluster NGC 2264. On the side of the constellation of the Unicorn. Less than 2,500 light years from Earth. Relatively close to us, therefore. This explains why the object has been widely studied. But no image, until then, had so well shown the cloudy and dark side of the nebula which almost gives it the appearance… of a ghost.
Beautiful and useful images
This 7 light-year-long cone-shaped nebula serves as a prime example of the structures that can appear in giant clouds of cold molecular gas and dust. Those in which new stars are created. This type of cone, or pillar, occurs when newly formed, bright, massive blue stars emit stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation that carry material away from their vicinity. As this material is pushed back, gas and dust farther away from young stars are compressed into dense, dark, tall shapes.
Another iconic image in the ESO catalog. And if it was produced for awareness purposes, let’s remember that ESO instruments have played a major role in advancing knowledge of our Universe. By capturing the first image of an exoplanet, by studying the black hole at the center of the Milky Way or by providing proof that the expansion of our Universe is accelerating. And it’s not over…