Carina Nebula Image Ushers In A New ESO Telescope
December 6, 2012

New Carina Nebula Image Helps Usher In New Telescope

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Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

A new image released by the European Space Observatory (ESO) shows off a spectacular view of the star-forming Carina Nebula, and is being released right in time for an inauguration.

Astronomers captured the Carina Nebula using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) Survey Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory.

The image was released on the occasion of the inauguration of the telescope in Naples on Thursday. The latest telescope at ESO's Paranal Observation in Chile was inaugurated at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics Observatory of Capodimonte in Italy.

The ceremony in Naples, Italy was attended by many guests, including the Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris, the INAF President, Giovanni Bignami, the ESO representatives Bruno Leibundgut and Roberto Tamai.

The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) is a state-of-the-art telescope with a 268-megapixel camera, OmegaCAM. The telescope is designed to map the sky both quickly, and with very fine image quality.

The new telescope is the largest telescope in the world exclusively dedicated to surveying the sky at visible wavelengths.

Carina Nebula is one of the most prominent and frequently imaged objects of the southern sky, and has been the subject of many earlier images with ESO telescopes. The glowing gas cloud is huge and is difficult for most large telescopes to study more than a tiny part of it at once.

The star formation region is an ideal target for the VLT Survey Telescope, because the telescope is capable of delivering very sharp images due to its high quality optics.

The picture has been combined with other recent VST images of the Carina Nebula to produce a richly detailed and colorful view of the object.

Carina Nebula is a huge stellar nursery about 7,500 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Carina. The cloud of glowing gas and dust is one of the closest star formation regions to the Earth, and includes several of the brightest and most massive stars known.

The red color in the picture comes from hydrogen gas in the nebula that is glowing under the harsh ultraviolet light from many young and hot stars. Other colors are also visible that originate from other elements in the gas.