A newly born star shines upon a reflection nebula in a stunning cosmic show noticed from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The star’s name is HD 97300 and is around 500 light years away from Earth, in the constellation of Chamaeleon Complex.
Researchers at the European Space Observatory have just released this footage, taken with the help of an MPG/ESO 2.2 metre telescope. The spectacular part about the image is that it shows the cosmic object reflecting in the dust particles around it, thus creating the so-called reflection nebula, known as IC 2631.
The dark nebulae in the picture also reveals the fact that the new star is not alone in the region, however since the cloud is so cluttered with gas and dust, it does not seem to allow any background stars to shine.
Even though HD 97300 seems to present a powerful light, scientists say that this is only a fleeting moment. It is also known as a T Tauri star, which means that it has reached the youngest visible phase for a star of relatively small dimensions.
According to researchers, this happens because they did not yet begin to fuse hydrogen into helium inside their bodies. However, when these objects arrive at adulthood, they are said to lose proportions, thus making them less visible.
The region that surrounds the bright young star is apparently filled with material which is bound to create many more stars in the future. A reflection nebula represents a cloud of interstellar dust, which has the capacity to reflect the light of the stars located in its proximity. If it weren’t for the external source, the nebula could not shine on its own.
The energy radiated from the adjacent stars is not powerful enough to create an emission nebula, thus enabling it to emit light on its own. If the temperature of the nearby stars was higher, then they would be capable of ionizing the gas hosting them and support the formation of an emission nebula.
Reflection nebulae are typically blue, because the material surrounding them works better for blue light rather than red. This scattering process is the same one that creates blue skies and red sunsets.
So far, scientists were able to identify around 500 reflection nebulae, the most famous ones being those bordering the stars of the Pleiades. A spectacular sight is also the red reflection nebula surrounding the giant star Antares.
Image Source: Eso.org