ESO Observatory captures images of the “Cone Nebula” 2,500 light-years from Earth

This Thursday The European Southern Observatory (ESO), in commemoration of its 60th anniversary, released an extraordinary new image of the Cone Nebula, captured earlier this year by the Cerro Paranal telescope, in Antofagasta.

Selected by your staff, The discovery is part of a campaign that marks the celebration of six decades dedicated to research by this center, which will take place at the end of 2022, both on social media under the hashtag #ESO60years, and with local events in ESO Member States and other countries.

This finding is considered the perfect example of pillar-like structures developing in the giant clouds of cold molecular gas and dust known to create new stars. This type of pillar arises when newly formed massive bright blue stars emit stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation that expel material from their neighborhood..

As this material moves away, gas and dust farther from the young stars are compressed into tall, dense, dark pillar-like structures. This process helps create the dark Cone Nebula, which points away from the bright stars of NGC 2264.

figure was obtained with the FORS2 instrument (FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph 2, focal reducer and low dispersion spectrograph), installed on ESO’s VLT in Chile.

Created as part of ESO’s Cosmic Jewels programme, the initiative seeks to popularize the production of images of interesting, mysterious and visually appealing objects using telescopes with an educational and knowledge purpose.

The program makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for scientific observations. The data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes and is made available to the astronomical community through the ESO Science Archive.