Saturday, May 21, 2022

Milky Way and the French Alps

Rocks formed millions of years ago frame the Milky Way shining in the background (Image: Reproduction/Benjamin Barakat)

 It may even look like these formations are ruins of some ancient castle, but don't be fooled. Photographed in the French Alps, these rocky structures are called Demoiselles Coiffées and are examples of so-called "Fairy Chimneys". 

They are probably a few million years old, and are cone-shaped structures; at the top, there is usually a large rock block, which protects the rest of the chimney from the effects of erosion.

 The chimneys are framed by part of the Milky Way's central disk, which appears glowing in the sky; it is not known exactly how many stars are present in our galaxy, but the best estimates put something close to 100 billion of them here. In case you're wondering where we got in among so many stars, imagine this: if the Milky Way were a city, the Solar System would be in its suburbs, about 30,000 light-years from the center. 

The Cygnus region, on the other hand, draws attention for its nebulae, large clouds of gas and dust in space — it is there that you will find some very popular ones, such as the one in North America, the Tulip nebula, the Pelican, among others. The sky record was captured separately from that of the foreground of the photo, composed of the rock formations.

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