Stunning Portrait of Nebula and Star Taken By Telescope
This magnificent view of the reflection nebula around the star R Coronae Australis, which forms the nebula's heart, was taken by ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Full Story.
Credit: ESO

A stunning new photo of deep space from a European telescope has revealed busy star-forming nebula awash in picturesque interstellar gas and dust.

The new space photo shows the star R. Coronae Australis star and the vast nebula of gas and dust around it. The snapshot was taken by a telescope with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and is peppered with subtle colors and details that give it a painting-like quality.

The star and nebula are located in the tiara-shaped constellation Corona Australis (the Southern Crown). The region is about 4 light-years across and visible to Earth as a portion of the sky roughly the size of the full moon. At 420 light-years away, the area is one of the nearest and most dramatic star-forming regions, ESO officials said in a statement.

The nebula does not shine with its own light. Instead, it is a so-called reflection nebula, meaning that its illumination comes from the reflection of star light and radiation off its dust and gas. The blue light, in particular, comes from reflected starlight off interstellar dust.

At the center of the new photo is the star R. Coronae Australis, which is one of several young stars that have formed from the nebula. These stars are similar in mass to our own sun.

The black cloud trailing the bottom center and left of the image depicts a zone where visible light is completely absorbed by the dust and emits only heat as infrared radiation. Only a camera capable of detecting longer wavelengths would be able to make out further structures in this piece of gas.

Twelve filters of red, green and blue were used to produce this image by the Wide Field Imager at the ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile.