Cosmic Chameleon got in the photo

The presented image was taken by the VISTA survey telescope located on the territory of the Paranal Observatory in Chile. It shows a section of the sky in the constellation Chamaeleon.

The reflective nebula IC 2631. Source: ESO/Meingast et al.

In the center of the VISTA image, you can see a bright cloud known as IC 2631. In the southern hemisphere, it is visible in the sky most of the year.

IC 2631 is a reflective nebula — a cluster of dust clouds that shine not with their own, but with reflected light. The main source of illumination is the HD 97300 star, which can be seen in its right part. This is a young luminary which has about twice the mass of the sun. It is located at a distance of 630 light-years from Earth. The star is the source of jets consisting of the matter of the protoplanetary disk surrounding it. They are also called Herbig–Haro objects.

The nebula photographed by VISTA is part of a larger Chameleon complex — a vast region of active star formation, where hundreds of luminaries are forming right now. In the optical range, this region contains numerous dark areas. They correspond to places where dust completely blocks light from background sources. However, this image was obtained in infrared rays, which pass almost unhindered through the dust. This gives astronomers the opportunity to look into the very heart of the stellar maternity hospital.

According to

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