The Omega Nebula, the Eagle Nebula and Sharpless 2–54 all line up in space. Here’s a never-before-seen view of them all together!
“It shows you exactly how a star is formed; nothing else can be so pretty! A cluster of vapor, the cream of the milky way, a sort of celestial cheese, churned into light.” –Benjamin Disraeli
Most the night sky’s stars are ancient: legacies of star-forming nebulae and young clusters that dissociated long ago.
But in the galactic plane, best viewed from terrestrial, equatorial regions, new star-forming regions continue to take shape.
The ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST), equipped with a wide-field view and a 268 megapixel camera, just released an incredible panorama.
Separated by less than five degrees on the sky, the Omega Nebula, the Eagle Nebula, and Sharpless 2–54 tell an incredible story.
All located around 6,000–7,000 light years away, they represent different stages of new star formation.
In the Omega Nebula, a giant cloud of interstellar matter saw a small part collapse, giving rise to nearly 1,000 new stars.
The gas-and-dust tells a similar story to the Orion Nebula, only more distant and viewed edge-on.
The Eagle Nebula is much more massive, with ten times as many stars and regions where new stars are still forming.
The Pillars of Creation and the Fairy/Spire are clearly visible by VST.
Finally, Sharpless 2–54 is a partially ionized molecular cloud with no active star formation, yet.
However, young star clusters abound, indicating multiple waves of recent activity.
The same enormous molecular cloud complex contains them all.
Mostly Mute Monday tells a cosmic story of a phenomenon, object or location in the Universe in images, visuals and no more than 200 words. Check out an interactive, zoomable panorama, courtesy of ESO, here!