Space

View Some of the Best Images of Stars Ever Captured by the ESO

Infrared VISTA View of Stellar Nursery in Monoceros

Infrared VISTA View of Stellar Nursery in Monoceros
This dramatic infrared image shows the nearby star formation region Monoceros R2, located some 2700 light-years away in the constellation of Monoceros (the Unicorn). The picture was created from exposures in the near infrared bands Y, J and Ks taken by the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory. Monoceros R2 is an association of massive hot young stars illuminating a beautiful collection of reflection nebulae, embedded in a large molecular cloud. Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Close-up Drama of Star Formation
This very detailed enhanced-color image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows the dramatic effects of very young stars on the dust and gas from which they were born in the star-forming region NGC 6729. The baby stars are invisible in this picture, being hidden behind dust clouds at the upper left of the picture, but material they are ejecting is crashing into the surroundings at speeds of that can be as high as one million kilometers per hour. This picture was taken by the FORS1 instrument and records the scene in the light of glowing hydrogen and sulfur. Credit: ESO/Sergey Stepanenko

One Million Stars
With this remarkable VISTA mosaic we look deep into the dusty heart of our own Milky Way galaxy in the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer). About one million stars are revealed in this picture, most of them not seen in visible light pictures. As well as absorbing light, the dust also scatters blue light from the distant stars and makes the central part of this huge starscape appear very red. This image is a mosaic created from VISTA images taken through Y, J and Ks filters in the near-infrared part of the spectrum. The image is about 2 degrees by 1.5 degrees in extent. The total exposure time for this mosaic was only 80 seconds. Credit: ESO/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

APEX Image of a Star Forming Filament in Taurus
This image from the APEX telescope, of part of the Taurus Molecular Cloud, shows a sinuous filament of cosmic dust more than ten light-years long. In it, newborn stars are hidden, and dense clouds of gas are on the verge of collapsing to form yet more stars. The cosmic dust grains are so cold that observations at submillimeter wavelengths, such as these made by the LABOCA camera on APEX, are needed to detect their faint glow. This image shows two regions in the cloud: the upper-right part of the filament shown here is Barnard 211, while the lower-left part is Barnard 213.

The submillimeter-wavelength observations from the LABOCA camera on APEX, which reveal the heat glow of the cosmic dust grains, are shown here in orange tones. They are superimposed on a visible-light image of the region, which shows the rich background of stars. The bright star above the filament is φ Tauri. Credit: ESO/APEX (MPIfR/ESO/OSO)/A. Hacar et al./Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin.

Alpha Centauri and Its Surroundings
This wide-field view of the sky around the bright star Alpha Centauri was created from photographic images forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. The star appears so big just because of the scattering of light by the telescope’s optics as well as in the photographic emulsion. Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to the Solar System. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin

Variable Stars Close to the Galactic Center
This image, captured with the VISTA infrared survey telescope, as part of the Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) ESO public survey, shows the central part of the Milky Way. While normally hidden behind obscuring dust, the infrared capabilities of VISTA allow to study the stars close to the galactic center.

Within this field of view, astronomers detected several ancient stars, of a type known as RR Lyrae. As RR Lyrae stars typically reside in ancient stellar populations over 10 billion years old, this discovery suggests that the bulging center of the Milky Way likely grew through the merging of primordial star clusters. Credit: ESO/VVV Survey/D. Minniti

Dusty Ring Around the Aging Double Star IRAS 08544 4431
The Very Large Telescope Interferometer at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has obtained the sharpest view ever of the dusty disc around the close pair of aging stars IRAS 08544-4431. For the first time such discs can be compared to the discs around young stars — and they look surprisingly similar. It is even possible that a disc appearing at the end of a star’s life might also create a second generation of planets.

The inset shows the VLTI reconstructed image, with the brighter central star removed. The background view shows the surroundings of this star in the constellation of Vela (The Sails). Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin

The Flames of Betelgeuse
This picture of the dramatic nebula around the bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse was created from images taken with the VISIR infrared camera on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). This structure, resembling flames emanating from the star, forms because the behemoth is shedding its material into space. The earlier NACO observations of the plumes are reproduced in the central disc. The small red circle in the middle has a diameter about four and half times that of the Earth’s orbit and represents the location of Betelgeuse’s visible surface. The black disc corresponds to a very bright part of the image that was masked to allow the fainter nebula to be seen. Credit: ESO/P. Kervella

Wide Field View of the R Coronae Australis Region
This spectacular wide field image shows the area around the star R Coronae Australis. A huge dust cloud, about eight light-years across, dominates the center of the image. The bluish reflection nebula close to R Coronae Australis is right of center and the globular cluster NGC 6723 lies to the upper-right of the nebula. Corona Australis is a tiny tiara-shaped constellation, located next to the larger constellation of Sagittarius, in the direction of the center of the Milky Way. In spite of its faintness, this southern winter constellation can be easily spotted from dark sites because of its characteristic shape and position in the sky. Credit: Loke Kun Tan (StarryScapes.com)

The Field Around Yellow Hypergiant Star HR 5171
HR 5171, the brightest star just below the center of this wide-field image, is a yellow hypergiant, a very rare type of stars with only a dozen known in our galaxy. Its size is over 1300 times that of the Sun — one of the ten largest stars found so far. Observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer have shown that it is actually a double star, with the companion in contact with the main star. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2

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Richard Hook, ESO

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