A CLOUD OF RED
This image was taken by ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile of a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. Hot stars within this nebula give off energetic radiation, causing the hydrogen around it to glow red. Though the clouds in this image appear thick and bright, its light is spread very thinly and the red glow is not seen well visually.
Gum 41 is located 7300 light-years from Earth in an area of the southern sky in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur). There are many bright nebulae in this region, all associated with hot newborn stars that emit intense radiation which excites the hydrogen gas surrounding them, causing the hydrogen to glow red.
Gum 41 was discovered by Australian astronomer Colin Gum, and included in his catalogue of 84 emission nebulae, published in 1955. The nebula is part of a much larger structure called the Lambda Centauri Nebula, also known as the Running Chicken Nebula.
This image was created using data from the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is a combination of images taken through blue, green, and red filters, along with an image using a special filter designed to pick out the red glow from hydrogen.
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