The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory has captured an extensive image of the Running Chicken Nebula, encompassing multiple clouds visible over an area equivalent to about 25 full moons in the night sky. The image, spanning 1.5 billion pixels, showcases clouds in delicate pink hues, composed of gas and dust, lit up by the internal young, hot stars. This work is credited to the ESO/VPHAS+ team, with acknowledgments to CASU.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) presents an intricate portrayal of the Running Chicken Nebula, situated 6500 light-years away in the Centaurus constellation. This immense 1.5-billion-pixel image, taken by the VST, emphasizes the presence of young stars and areas such as IC 2948 and IC 2944, providing a visually stunning cosmic display.
During the holiday season, while traditional feasts might include turkey, soba noodles, latkes, or Pan de Pascua, the ESO introduces a unique celestial spectacle – the Running Chicken Nebula. This nebula, a birthplace of new stars, is shown in extraordinary detail in a 1.5-billion-pixel image from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.
Situated in the Centaurus constellation, approximately 6500 light-years from Earth, this vast stellar cradle houses young stars whose intense radiation illuminates the surrounding hydrogen gas, producing a pink glow.
The Running Chicken Nebula is composed of various regions, all visible in this extensive image that covers an area about the size of 25 full moons. The nebula’s brightest section, known as IC 2948, is interpreted differently by observers as either the head or tail of the chicken. The image features soft, pastel-like gas and dust clouds. At its center, marked by a bright, vertical structure, lies IC 2944. Lambda Centauri, a star visible to the naked eye and much closer to Earth than the nebula, stands out in this region.
In this depiction from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, the Running Chicken Nebula is shown with several prominent clouds. Lambda Centauri, labeled in the image, is notably closer to Earth and visible without aid. The nebula’s clouds, appearing in gentle pink tones, are rich in gas and dust, illuminated by the heat of young stars within. This image covers a sky area approximately the size of 25 full moons, with one moon shown for scale. The ESO/VPHAS+ team is credited, with thanks to CASU.
Within the nebula, particularly in regions IC 2948 and IC 2944, numerous young stars emit powerful radiation, shaping their surroundings in a manner reminiscent of a chicken. Some nebula areas, known as Bok globules, resist the intense ultraviolet radiation. Zooming into the image reveals these small, dark, dense dust and gas pockets scattered throughout the nebula.
The image also captures other regions like Gum 39, 40, and 41, and countless stars in orange, white, and blue, resembling skyborne fireworks. The image contains more wonders than can be easily described, inviting viewers to zoom and explore for a visual feast.
A 3D animation brings the Running Chicken Nebula to life, simulating a flight through its swirling gas and dust clouds. This video is based on a real image from the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal site, though the 3D positioning of stars is purely indicative. Credit goes to the ESO/VPHAS+ team, with acknowledgment to CASU.
This image is a mosaic of hundreds of frames meticulously pieced together. The individual shots were captured using filters that allow light of different colors, later combined into this final presentation. These observations were made with the OmegaCAM wide-field camera on the VST, an INAF-owned telescope hosted by ESO at the Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, perfect for mapping the southern sky in visible light. The data for this mosaic comes from the VST Photometric Hα Survey of the Southern Galactic Plane and Bulge (VPHAS+), aimed at understanding stellar life cycles.
This chart indicates the position of the Running Chicken Nebula (IC2944) in the large southern constellation of Centaurus. It displays most stars visible to the unaided eye under good conditions, with the nebula’s location marked by a red circle. The star cluster IC 2948, linked to this nebula, is visible through small telescopes, though the nebula itself, faint and first discovered photographically in the early 20th century, is harder to detect. The chart is credited to ESO, IAU, and Sky & Telescope.
This image, from one edge to the other, spans
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Running Chicken Nebula
What is the Running Chicken Nebula?
The Running Chicken Nebula, also known as IC 2944, is a nebula located in the Centaurus constellation, approximately 6500 light-years away from Earth. It is a stellar nursery, where new stars are being formed. The nebula is notable for its intricate cloud formations and the presence of Bok globules, which are dense pockets of dust and gas resistant to intense stellar radiation.
How was the image of the Running Chicken Nebula captured?
The image of the Running Chicken Nebula was captured by the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal site. This 1.5-billion-pixel image was created using a mosaic of hundreds of frames taken through filters that allow light of different colors. These images were then combined to produce the final detailed image.
What does the 1.5-billion-pixel image of the Nebula reveal?
The 1.5-billion-pixel image of the Running Chicken Nebula reveals several clouds of gas and dust illuminated by young, hot stars within them. The image covers an area approximately the size of 25 full moons in the sky and shows various regions within the nebula, including IC 2948 and IC 2944, in remarkable detail. It provides a visually stunning cosmic display, showcasing the nebula’s intricate structures and vibrant colors.
Where is the Running Chicken Nebula located in the sky?
The Running Chicken Nebula is located in the constellation of Centaurus in the southern sky. It is about 6500 light-years away from Earth. The nebula’s location is marked on astronomical charts and can be identified in the large southern constellation of Centaurus.
What scientific significance does the Running Chicken Nebula hold?
The Running Chicken Nebula is significant for astronomical research as it is a region of active star formation. Studying such nebulae helps astronomers understand the process of star birth and the evolution of stars. The nebula’s Bok globules are of particular interest because they are potential sites of future star formation, offering insights into the early stages of stellar evolution.
More about Running Chicken Nebula
- ESO’s Running Chicken Nebula Image
- VLT Survey Telescope (VST)
- Centaurus Constellation
- Bok Globules
- Stellar Formation