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Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59)


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Pipe Nebula (パイプ星雲)
Dark Nebula (暗黒星雲)
Nb DN

別名 (Other names)
Barnard 59, 65, 66, 67, and 78
(B59), (B65), (B66), (B67), (B78)

星座 (Constellation)
へびつかい座 (Oph) (Ophiuchus)


距離 (Distance)
600-700光年 (600-700 light-years)

Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59) is a dark nebula located 600 light years from the Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus.

Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59) : Picture

Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59)
Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59)
(C) ESO
The Pipe Nebula is a prime example of a dark nebula. Originally, astronomers believed these were areas in space where there were no stars. But it was later discovered that dark nebulae actually consist of clouds of interstellar dust so thick it can block out the light from the stars beyond. The Pipe Nebula appears silhouetted against the rich star clouds close to the centre of the Milky Way in the constellation of Ophiuchus.

Barnard 59 forms the mouthpiece of the Pipe Nebula and is the subject of this new image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope. This strange and complex dark nebula lies about 600–700 light-years away from Earth.

The nebula is named after the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard who was the first to systematically record dark nebulae using long-exposure photography and one of those who recognised their dusty nature. Barnard catalogued a total of 370 dark nebulae all over the sky. A self-made man, he bought his first house with the prize money from discovering several comets. Barnard was an extraordinary observer with exceptional eyesight who made contributions in many fields of astronomy in the late 19th and early 20th century.

At first glance, your attention is most likely drawn to the centre of the image where dark twisting clouds look a little like the legs of a vast spider stretched across a web of stars. However, after a few moments you will begin to notice several finer details. Foggy, smoky shapes in the middle of the darkness are lit up by new stars that are forming. Star formation is common within regions that contain dense, molecular clouds, such as in dark nebulae. The dust and gas will clump together under the influence of gravity and more and more material will be attracted until the star is formed. However, compared to similar regions, the Barnard 59 region is undergoing relatively little star formation and still has a great deal of dust.

If you look carefully you may also be able to spot more than a dozen tiny blue, green and red strips scattered across the picture. These are asteroids, chunks of rock and metal a few kilometres across that are orbiting the Sun. The majority lie in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Barnard 59 is about ten million times further away from the Earth than these tiny objects.

And finally, as you take in this richly textured tapestry of celestial objects, consider for a moment that when you look up at this region of sky from Earth you would be able to fit this entire image under your thumb held at arms-length despite it being about six light-years across at the distance of Barnard 59.

Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59)
Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59)
(C) ESO
This chart shows the location of Barnard 59 in the constellation of Ophiuchus. This map shows most of the stars visible to the unaided eye under good conditions, and Barnard 59 itself is highlighted with a red circle on the image. This dark nebula is part of the Pipe Nebula, which appears as a dark feature in the Milky Way and can be seen well with the unaided eye under good conditions.

The Pipe Nebula
The Pipe Nebula
(C) Yuri Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory, Carnegie Institution for Science)
East of Antares, dark markings sprawl through crowded star fields toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Cataloged in the early 20th century by astronomer E. E. Barnard, the obscuring interstellar dust clouds include B59, B72, B77 and B78, seen in silhouette against the starry background. Here, their combined shape suggests a pipe stem and bowl, and so the dark nebula's popular name is the Pipe Nebula. The deep and expansive view was represents nearly 24 hours of exposure time recorded in very dark skies of the Chilean Atacama desert. It covers a full 10 by 10 degree field in the pronounceable constellation Ophiuchus. The Pipe Nebula is part of the Ophiuchus dark cloud complex located at a distance of about 450 light-years. Dense cores of gas and dust within the Pipe Nebula are collapsing to form stars.

Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59) The Pipe Nebula
Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59)
(C) ESO
The Pipe Nebula
(C) Yuri Beletsky
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Pipe Nebula (Barnard 59) : Movie

Zooming in on the dark nebula Barnard 59
This video sequence starts with a broad panorama of the spectacular region in the direction of the centre of the Milky Way. We then close in on a curious dark feature called the Pipe Nebula. Here dense clouds of interstellar dust are silhouetted against the rich star clouds in the constellation of Ophiuchus, close to the more familiar constellation of Scorpius. We finally focus on one end of the pipe, a strange dark feature called Barnard 59. It is shown in a very detailed new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory.

Panning across the dark nebula Barnard 59
This pan video gives a close-up view of part of a vast dark cloud of interstellar dust called the Pipe Nebula. This new and very detailed image of what is also known as Barnard 59 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory.
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