Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Stars, Dust, and Gas Near Antares

Why is the sky near Antares and Rho Ophiuchi so dusty yet colorful? The colours result from a mixture of objects and processes. Fine dust, illuminated from the front by starlight, produces blue reflection nebulae, gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae.

Backlit dust clouds block starlight which appear dark and Antares itself, a red supergiant, one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the lower right of this image.

The Rho Ophiuchi star system lies at the center of the blue reflection nebula on the top left. The distant globular cluster of stars M4 is visible above and to the right of Antares. These star clouds are even more colourful than humans can see, emitting light right across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Image Credit & Copyright: Mario Cogo (Galax Lux)

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