This new image from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) shows a huge cloud of dust called the Pipe Nebula, focusing on its mouthpiece: a small stellar cluster called Barnard 59.
The Pipe Nebula is located between 600 and 700 light-years away. It is a typical dark nebula with clouds so thick that they are obscuring the stars beyond.
The nebula is also home to Barnard 65, 66, and 67, which form the pipe stem, and Barnard 78 which makes up the bowl.
The photo was taken with the 67-million pixel Wide Field Imager on the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG) 2.2-meter telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in the Chilean Andes. The imager’s field of view is as large as the full moon.
As well as the spidery clouds at the center of the picture, some slightly brighter areas can be seen where a few new stars are forming amid the clumps of gas and dust.
The colorful streaks are asteroids that are a few kilometers wide and tracking the sun, mostly in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
The Pipe Nebula can be viewed with the naked eye when the sky is dark and clear, and is more visible at southern latitudes, appearing higher in the sky.
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