Very Large Telescope photographs the Gum Nebula

A new image taken with ESO’s Very Large Telescope captures an object that somewhat resembles a giant gum, sprawled in the middle of the vast expanses of space. But in fact, we are looking at a nebula known by the designation Gum 46.

Gum 46 Nebula. Source: ESO

Gum 46 is located at a distance of 5,500 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Crux. It is a gas cloud. But why does the nebula glow pink?

The thing is that in the center of Gum 46 there is a young, hot and blue star HD311999. Its powerful radiation excites atoms in the surrounding gas, which then re-emit this energy at certain wavelengths. The pink hue prevailing in the image is due to the atoms of hydrogen, the most common element in the universe. 

The dark clouds surrounding the nebula also present a very interesting sight. They’re not really dark. These are extremely dense areas of dust that block the light passing through them, obscuring the glowing heart of Gum 46.

The image of the “Gum Nebula” was taken as part of ESO’s Cosmic Gems program, an educational initiative aimed at photographing interesting, mysterious or simply beautiful objects of the southern sky. The survey is usually carried out at a time when telescopes, for one reason or another, are unable to conduct scheduled observations. All collected data may also be suitable for scientific purposes and are provided to astronomers through ESO’s Scientific Archive.

According to

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