May 28, 2013
Zooming in on the Stellar Nursery IC 2944
This zoom runs from a very wide view of the Milky Way all the way into a very close-up view of the spectacular stellar nursery IC 2944. It is being released to celebrate a milestone: 15 years of ESO’s Very Large Telescope. This image from the VLT also shows a group of thick clouds of dust known as the Thackeray globules, silhouetted against the pale pink glowing gas of the nebula. These globules are under fierce bombardment from the ultraviolet radiation from nearby hot young stars. They are both being eroded away and also fragmenting, rather like lumps of butter dropped onto a hot frying pan. It is likely that Thackeray’s globules will be destroyed before they can collapse and form new stars.