Light From The Darkness

Credit: ESO
On the left of this new image there is a dark column resembling a cloud of smoke. To the right shines a small group of brilliant stars. At first glance these two features could not be more different, but they are in fact closely linked. The cloud contains huge amounts of cool cosmic dust and is a nursery where new stars are being born. It is likely that the Sun formed in a similar star formation region more than four billion years ago. This cloud is known as Lupus 3 and it lies about 600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). The section shown here is about five light-years across. As the denser parts of such clouds contract under the effects of gravity they heat up and start to shine. At first this radiation is blocked by the dusty clouds and can only be seen by telescopes observing at longer wavelengths than visible light, such as the infrared. But as the stars get hotter and brighter their intense radiation and stellar winds gradually clear the clouds around them until they emerge in all their glory. This zoom sequence starts with a view of the central parts of the Milky Way. We close in on a region in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). The final view, taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, shows a dark cloud where new stars are forming along with a cluster of brilliant stars that have already burst out of their dusty stellar nursery. This cloud is known as Lupus 3 and it lies about 600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). It is likely that the Sun formed
Credit: ESO/F. Comeron, Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org), Digitized Sky Survey 2, Music: delmo "acoustic" 
in a similar star formation region more than four billion years ago.The bright stars right of the centre of this new picture form a perfect example of a small group of such hot young stars. Some of their brilliant blue light is being scattered off the remaining dust around them. The two brightest stars are bright enough to be seen easily with a small telescope or binoculars. They are young stars that have not yet started to shine by nuclear fusion in their cores and are still surrounded by glowing gas [1]. They are probably less than one million years old. Although they are less obvious at first glance than the bright blue stars, surveys have found many other very young stellar objects in this region, which is one of the closest such stellar nurseries to the Sun. This wide-field view shows a dark cloud where new stars are forming along with cluster of brilliant stars that have already burst out of their dusty stellar nursery. This cloud is known as Lupus 3 and it lies about 600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). It is likely that the Sun formed in a similar star formation region more than four billion years ago. This view
Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2, Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin
was created from images forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Star formation regions can be huge, such as the Tarantula Nebula (eso0650) where hundreds of massive stars are being formed. However, most of the stars in our and other galaxies are thought to have formed in much more modest regions like the one shown here, where only two bright stars are visible and no very heavy stars are formed. For this reason, the Lupus 3 region is both fascinating for astronomers and a beautiful illustration of the early stages of the life of stars. This video pan sequence gives a detailed view of a dark cloud where new stars are forming along with a cluster of brilliant stars that have already burst out of their dusty stellar nursery. This cloud is known as Lupus 3 and it lies about 600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). It is likely that the Sun formed in a similar star formation region more than four billion years ago. This picture was taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla
Credit: ESO/F. Comeron
Observatory  in Chile and is the best visible light image ever taken of this little-known object. This chart shows the location of the dark cloud Lupus 3 in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). This map shows most of the stars visible to the unaided eye under good conditions, and the location of the cloud and newly formed hot young  stars is marked with a red circle. The brightest two stars in this object can easily be seen with a small telescope or binoculars and form an attractive double star. The dark cloud itself only shows up in longer exposure images. [1] These are known as Herbig Ae/Be stars after the 
Credit: ESO, IAU and Sky & Telescope
astronomer who first identified them. The A and B refer to the spectral types of the stars, somewhat hotter than the Sun, and the "e" indicates that emission lines are present in their spectra, due to the glow from the gas around them. They shine by converting gravitational potential energy into heat as they contract. Contacts and sources: Richard Hook, ESO,Source: Nano Patents And Innovations

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