As autumn changes to winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the glorious Orion Nebula rises in the early evening, a welcome addition to the amateur’s list of favourite targets. Even in small telescope, the vast stellar nursery, some 1,400 light years from Earth, dazzles the eye with curving wings of gas stretching away to either side of a concentrated star-forming region where larger instruments reveal the four brightest members of the Trapezium, an open cluster of very young stars. Very large instruments, of course, reveal truly stunning tapestries of light and colour across multiple wavelengths. This infrared view was captured by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope using the HAWK-I cryogenically cooled infrared camera.
A new Gemini Observatory image reveals the remarkable “fireworks” that accompany the birth of stars. The picture captures in unprecedented clarity the fascinating structures of a gas jet complex emanating from a stellar nursery at supersonic speeds. Researchers believe they have also found a collection of runaway (orphan) stars that result from all this activity.
ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile hosted an event to mark the first light for the four powerful lasers that form a crucial part of the adaptive optics systems on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Attendees were treated to a spectacular display of the most powerful laser guide stars ever used for astronomy against the majestic southern sky.