Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

This is not a pipe: Curious dark Pipe Nebula seen as never before

Date:
August 15, 2012
Source:
European Southern Observatory - ESO
Summary:
Just as Renι Magritte wrote “This is not a pipe” on his famous painting, this is also not a pipe. It is however a picture of part of a vast dark cloud of interstellar dust called the Pipe Nebula. By coincidence this image is appearing on the 45th anniversary of the painter’s death.

This picture shows Barnard 59, part of a vast dark cloud of interstellar dust called the Pipe Nebula. This new and very detailed image of what is known as a dark nebula was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory. This image is so large that it is strongly recommended to use the zoomable version to appreciate it fully.
Credit: ESO

Just as Renι Magritte wrote "This is not a pipe" on his famous painting, this is also not a pipe. It is however a picture of part of a vast dark cloud of interstellar dust called the Pipe Nebula. This new and very detailed image of what is also known as Barnard 59 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory. By coincidence this image is appearing on the 45th anniversary of the painter's death.

The Pipe Nebula is a prime example of a dark nebula. Originally, astronomers believed these were areas in space where there were no stars. But it was later discovered that dark nebulae actually consist of clouds of interstellar dust so thick it can block out the light from the stars beyond. The Pipe Nebula appears silhouetted against the rich star clouds close to the centre of the Milky Way in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer).

Barnard 59 forms the mouthpiece of the Pipe Nebula [1] and is the subject of this new image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope. This strange and complex dark nebula lies about 600-700 light-years away from Earth.

The nebula is named after the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard who was the first to systematically record dark nebulae using long-exposure photography and one of those who recognised their dusty nature. Barnard catalogued a total of 370 dark nebulae all over the sky. A self-made man, he bought his first house with the prize money from discovering several comets. Barnard was an extraordinary observer with exceptional eyesight who made contributions in many fields of astronomy in the late 19th and early 20th century.

At first glance, your attention is most likely drawn to the centre of the image where dark twisting clouds look a little like the legs of a vast spider stretched across a web of stars. However, after a few moments you will begin to notice several finer details. Foggy, smoky shapes in the middle of the darkness are lit up by new stars that are forming. Star formation is common within regions that contain dense, molecular clouds, such as in dark nebulae. The dust and gas will clump together under the influence of gravity and more and more material will be attracted until the star is formed. However, compared to similar regions, the Barnard 59 region is undergoing relatively little star formation and still has a great deal of dust.

If you look carefully you may also be able to spot more than a dozen tiny blue, green and red strips scattered across the picture. These are asteroids, chunks of rock and metal a few kilometres across that are orbiting the Sun. The majority lie in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Barnard 59 is about ten million times further away from Earth than these tiny objects [2].

And finally, as you take in this richly textured tapestry of celestial objects, consider for a moment that when you look up at this region of sky from Earth you would be able to fit this entire image under your thumb held at arms-length despite it being about six light-years across at the distance of Barnard 59.

Notes

[1] The entire Pipe Nebula is composed of Barnard 65, 66, 67 and 78, in addition to Barnard 59. It can be seen easily with the unaided eye under dark and clear skies and is best spotted from southern latitudes where it appears higher in the sky.

[2] Asteroids move during the exposures and create short trails. As this picture was created from several images taken in different colours at different times the different colour trails are also shifted relative to each other.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Southern Observatory - ESO. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Southern Observatory - ESO. "This is not a pipe: Curious dark Pipe Nebula seen as never before." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082721.htm>.
European Southern Observatory - ESO. (2012, August 15). This is not a pipe: Curious dark Pipe Nebula seen as never before. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082721.htm
European Southern Observatory - ESO. "This is not a pipe: Curious dark Pipe Nebula seen as never before." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082721.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) — Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) — Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA (July 25, 2014) — NASA EDGE webcasts live from Vandenberg AFB for the launch of the Oribiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO) launch. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins