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Telescope anniversary celebrated with release of dramatic cosmic image

May 23, 2013 at 3:36 PM   |   Comments

GARCHING, Germany, May 23 (UPI) -- A spectacular image of a stellar nursery has been released to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the world's most advanced optical telescope in Chile.

The European Southern Observatory, with headquarters in Germany, published the image of the pink glowing gas cloud known to astronomers as IC 2944 to mark 15 years since it inaugurated the Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile.

The image is the sharpest view of the stellar nursery about 6500 light-yearsfrom Earth in the southern constellation of Centaurus ever taken from the ground, a release from ESP headquarters in Garching said Thursday.

The object is composed mostly of hydrogen gas that glows in a distinctive shade of red due to the intense radiation from the many brilliant newborn stars, ESO astronomers said.

Clearly revealed against this bright backdrop are mysterious dark clots of opaque dust, cold clouds known as Bok globules, named after the Dutch-American astronomer Bart Bok who first drew attention to them in the 1940s as possible sites of star formation.

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