A snake in the sky: new image of the nebula Sh2-54

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In this new infrared image, a myriad of stars is revealed behind the faint orange glow of the Sh2-54 nebula. Located in the constellation Serpens, this impressive stellar nursery has been captured in intricate detail using VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy), located at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile.

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In this new infrared image, a myriad of stars is revealed behind the faint orange glow of the nebula. Sh2-54. Located in the constellation of SerpensThis impressive stellar nursery has been captured from the VISTA telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile.

Cuando los antiguos miraron hacia el cielo nocturno, vieron patrones aleatorios en las estrellas. Los griegos llamaron a una de estas “constelaciones” Serpensbecause of its resemblance to a snake.

What they would not have been able to see is that in the tail of this constellation there is a large amount of impressive astronomical objects. Among them, the Eagle nebula, the Omega nebula and thea nebula Sh2-54. The latter is revealed in a new light in a spectacular infrared image.

Nebulae are gas and dust clouds de las que nacen las estrellas. Sh2-54 se encuentra a unos 6.000 años luz de distancia. La “Sh” de su nombre se refiere al astrónomo estadounidense Steward Sharplesswho catalogued more than 300 nebulae in the 1950s.

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This image was captured in infrared light using a very sensitive camera from 67 million pixels installed on the telescope VISTA at the Paranal Observatory (Chile). It was taken as part of the VVVX (VIEW Variables in the Milky Way eXtended survey of variable stars in the Milky Way). This is a multi-year project that has repeatedly observed a large part of the Milky Way at infrared wavelengths, providing key data for understanding stellar evolution.