Shining about 6,000 light-years from Earth, the hub of star birth was imaged by the VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in what might be the sharpest photo of the cosmic object ever taken, ESO officials said.
Bright, young stars in the image appear in a blue and white shade in visible light, and in ultraviolet light, the young stars make the gas surrounding them glow brilliantly.
"This radiation strips electrons from hydrogen atoms, which then later recombine and release energy in the form of light," ESO officials said. "Each chemical element emits light at characteristic color when this process occurs, and for hydrogen the predominant color is red."
This ESO photo is part of a detailed cosmic survey of a huge part of the Milky Way.
Milky Way Galaxy and Red Airglow by Igor Chilingarian
The Great Rift
Taken by Stéphane Guisard, an ESO engineer and world-renowned astrophotographer, from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, this image directly benefits from the quality of Paranal’s sky, one of the best on the planet. The image shows the region spanning the sky from the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer) to Scorpius (the Scorpion). The very colourful Rho Ophiuchi and Antares region features prominently to the right, as well as much darker areas, such as the Pipe and Snake Nebulae. The dusty lane of our Milky Way runs obliquely through the image, dotted with remarkable bright, reddish nebulae, such as the Lagoon and the Trifid Nebulae, as well as NGC 6357 and NGC 6334. This dark lane also hosts the very center of our Galaxy, where a supermassive black hole is lurking.
Dave Morrow - Star Photography