A camera designed to investigate the mysteries of dark energy has captured a stunning 570-megapixel photograph of a distant star-forming region called Lobster Nebula.
Scientists have captured a 570-megapixel photograph of a distant star-forming region using a camera designed to decode the secrets of dark energy. As part of the Dark Energy Survey project, which seeks to find evidence of dark energy, the invisible force astronomers believe accelerates the expansion of the universe, the instrument mounted on the 13-foot (4 meters) Victor M. Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.
The telescope is able to capture some incredible views of the universe as it searches for the mysterious force. The new image, released on Sept. 12, shows the Lobster Nebula, a star-forming region in the constellation Scorpius about 8,000 light-years from Earth. Across the clouds of dust and gas, bright young stars are scattered across a 400-light-year-wide region. In the middle of the image, astronomers have found a very dense and young cluster of stars.
The Midcourse Space Experiment scientists named this nebula the War and Peace Nebula because it looked like a dove in infrared images, while the eastern part looked like a skull in infrared images. Around the cluster are a number of bright dots representing protostars, young stars still under the protective shroud of dust and gas. Its gas and dust are squeezed into twisting streams and braids by interstellar winds, galactic radiation, and powerful magnetic fields.
A number of massive stars can be found in this nebula, including the open cluster Pismis 24. Pismis 24-1, one of the brightest stars in the cluster, was believed to be the most massive star ever discovered. Nevertheless, later studies revealed that it was actually a multiple star system, with each component star weighing around 100 solar masses, making them one of the most massive stars on record.
According to NOIRLab, which operates the Dark Energy Camera, the device is one of the highest-performing wide-field charged-coupled device cameras in the world, with the capability of capturing very faint sources of light. A milestone of one million individual exposures has recently been reached by the camera, which produces 400 to 500 images per night. Using special filters, astronomers isolate specific wavelengths of light to create this particular image to look for evidence of dark energy. In addition to understanding the motions of distant stellar clusters, scientists can also determine the temperatures and chemistry of distant star-forming regions by observing them at these wavelengths.
Multiple observations of the same celestial object are performed using different filters to generate a colored image like this one. Light waves encompass a specific range of colors in each observation, which results in a single-color image. The individual images are then analyzed and assigned a corresponding color. In other words, the photograph was produced by combining multiple exposures taken with different filters and stacking them together to create a photograph that captures the Lobster Nebula as if it were brighter when seen with the naked eye.
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