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ESO paints cosmic watercolour
Posted: 1 July 2010

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Using the Wide Field Imager at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory, astronomers have painted a spectacular picture of the region around star R Coronae Australis.

The star-forming region around the star R Coronae Australis imaged by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This picture, which covers a field of 33.7 x 31.9 arcminutes is a combination of twelve CCD frames, 67 megapixels each, taken through B, V and R filters, with four exposures of five minutes each. Image: ESO.

R Coronae Australis lies 420 light years away in the heart of a star formation region in the constellation Corona Australis. It is one of several young stars in this region that vary in brightness, still swathed in the clouds of gas and dust from which they formed.

The latest image, which is a composite of twelve separate pictures taken through red, green and blue filters, and which covers a patch of sky equal to the width of the full Moon, reveals previously unseen detail in this complex region of star formation.

This wide field image shows the area around the star R Coronae Australis, and reveals the extent of the huge dust cloud, about eight light-years across, that dominates the centre of the image. Image: Loke Kun Tan (

Fierce radiation emitted by these evolving young stars interacts with the surrounding gas, giving rise to the beautiful colours and textures in this stellar portrait. The blue nebulous tones indicate a reflection nebula, resulting from star light that has been reflected off small dust particles. The intense red colours often typical of star forming regions is absent here because the stars, which are similar in mass to our own Sun, do not emit enough ultraviolet light to ionize much of the nearby hydrogen.

The bottom left of the image is dominated by a murky dark cloud. Stars are buried deep within the cloud but the light they emit is completely absorbed by the dust, and can only be detected at infrared wavelengths.

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!


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