Rho Ophiuchi: A Colorful Cosmic Cloud in Photos

Rho Ophiuchi and Antares

© Tom O’Donoghue | The National Maritime Museum | Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013

“Runner Up” of the “Deep Space” category in the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 exhibition, this beautiful space wallpaper shows Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae.

Two Molecular Clouds

ESO/S. Guisard; Column-density maps: J. Kainulainen, MPIA

The Pipe Nebula (left) and Rho Ophiuchi molecular clouds (right) are shown in this image of the Milky Way galaxy. Each inset map shows the extent to which the light of background stars dims as it passes through the clouds. These maps form the basis of the three-dimensional reconstruction of cloud structure from which the astronomers derived a so-called "recipe for star formation." [Full Story: Simple Recipe for Star Formation Revealed]

Rare Space Molecules Point Toward Star Nurseries

Bérengère Parise. Background image: Spitzer Space Telescope. NASA/JPL-Caltech/L. Allen (CfA) & D. Padgett (SSC-Cattech). Inlett: D2H+ Spectra (Champ+/APEX)

The Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud is a star-forming region about 400 light-years from Earth. The inset shows spectra of the rare molecule H2D+, detected with the APEX telescope in Chile, overlaid onto an infrared image of this region. [Full Story: Rare Space Molecules Point Toward Star Nurseries]

Newborn 'Flying Saucer' Star

Digitized Sky Survey 2/NASA/ESA

The young star 2MASS J16281370-2431391 lies in the Rho Ophiuchi star formation region, about 400 light-years from Earth. It is surrounded by a protoplanetary disk of gas and dust that is seen nearly edge-on from Earth; the disk's appearance in visible-light images has led to its being nicknamed the Flying Saucer. The main image shows part of the Rho Ophiuchi region; an enlarged close-up infrared view of the Flying Saucer from the Hubble Space Telescope is shown as an insert. [Full Story: Planet-Building 'Flying Saucer' Disk Is Surprisingly Cool (Video)]

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.