Officials at European Southern Observatory have released a stunning image of the Omega Nebula.
The image was taken at the ESO’s Very Large Telescope array in Chile, not far from the future site of the Extremely Large Telescope and the proposed site of the now-defunct Overwhelmingly Large Telescope.
The nebula — located around 6,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius — is thought to be a hotbed of recent star formation. The cloud of gas and dust spans approximately 15 light-years and is estimated to contain enough material to produce 800 sun-like stars, say astronomers.
The cloud of interstellar matter of which this nebula is a part is roughly 40 light-years in diameter. The total mass of the Omega Nebula is an estimated 800 solar masses. An open cluster of 35 stars lies embedded in the nebulosity and causes the gases of the nebula to shine due to radiation from these hot, young stars.
The portion of the nebula featured in the new image contains the Omega nebula’s newest stars, which are extremely hot. These newborn stars are lighting up their surrounding cosmic landscape.