A telescope in South America has captured a spectacular new view of an intricate cloud of interstellar dust in the famed Orion constellation.
The new space cloud photo, taken by the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile, reveals what astronomers call the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex in unprecedented detail. It gives scientists a glimpse into the heart of the closest, most active region of massive star formation to our solar system, researchers said.
The molecular cloud is located about 1,500 light-years from Earth in the Orion constellation. The new APEX image includes a reflection nebula called NGC 1999, which is only part of the vast molecular cloud. The cloud is actually a separate entity from the more well-known Orion nebula, which is located nearby.
Reflection nebulas get their name because their dark dust clouds reflect the light of nearby stars. For NGC 1999, the light stems from the young star V380 Orionis, ESO officials said in an image desciption.