New, incredible near-infrared images of the fantastic Carina Nebula are now available. Astronomers have obtained the highest resolution of the thick cloud of dust and gas, in which stars are actively developing, using the Gemini South Telescope in Chile.
The shots are also useful for comprehending stellar birth and nurseries. However, the wealth of detail, never seen before, really intrigued astronomers, and the Carina Nebula is genuinely one of the most outstanding features of the Universe. Here is what you need to know.
The Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager’s Features
The incredible Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager includes five lasers. These are directed at the sky to project something known as artificial “guide stars” that are mapped to correct the effect of atmospheric turbulence.
Utilizing that technology, Patrick Hartigan, a physicist and astronomer at the Rice University, and his team captured the Carina Nebula, in a resolution 10 times higher than photos captured without adaptive optics. The shots are also twice as sharp as Hubble pictures at this wavelength.
The photos unveiled never-seen details of the interaction between a cluster of your massive stars and a cloud of gas and dust, dubbed the Western Wall. The team found that the radiation from the hot young stars ionizes hydrogen, causing it to be incredibly bright when observed in infrared light. The UV radiation from the stars is also driving the outer layer of hydrogen to evaporate.
Furthermore, the team used various filters and obtained separate pictures of the hydrogen at the cloud’s surface and the evaporating hydrogen.
You can watch below a crossfading between photos done without and with adaptive optics, and see the difference for yourself.
Hartigan discussed the significance of the newly obtained pictures saying: “[…] so much sharper than anything we’ve previously seen; [they] provide the clearest view to date of how massive young stars affect their surroundings…”
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