The Flame Nebula in Orion comes to life in a new image released by the European Southern Observatory based on data collected over several years by astronomer Thomas Stanke and a team using the SuperCam instrument at the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The newly processed radio image, which includes a variety of other nebulae like the famous Horsehead, is shown in a box superimposed on a visible-light background image of the region from the Digitised Sky Survey 2. The huge molecular clouds of Orion are the nearest to the sun, located between 1,300 and 1,600 light years from Earth. It is home to the most active stellar nursery in the local neighborhood.
A team of researchers has observed the brightest, ultra metal-poor star ever discovered. (To astronomers, metals are elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.) The star is therefore a rare relic from the Milky Way’s formative years. As such, it offers astronomers a precious opportunity to explore the origin of the first stars that sprung to life within our galaxy.
In this huge image of part of the southern constellation of Norma, wisps of crimson gas are illuminated by rare, massive stars that have only recently ignited and are still buried deep in thick dust clouds. The vast nebula where these giants were born, known as RCW 106, is captured here in fine detail by ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST), at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.