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Stunning Hidden Stars Uncovered Behind Cosmic Dust by ESO's Powerful Dust-Busting Telescope

Oct 06, 2016 03:46 AM EDT
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Young stars in the nebula Messier 78, invisible to the naked eye, are now seen peaking out from a thick fog of cosmic dust. The glimpses of these heavenly bodies can be credited to the very powerful telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) that they call their very own “dustbuster”.

This telescope, called the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), is able to catch “unseeable” bodies because it sees near-infrared light, which cuts through the dust but isn’t always visible. With all the cosmic dust floating in space, VISTA comes in handy and allows astronomers to probe deeper in the universe.

This particular nebula is a reflection nebula that’s approximately 1600 light-years away in the Orion constellation. Messier 78 was widely believed to have been discovered by French astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1780, but it’s also commonly known as the 78th entry in Charles Messier’s catalogue – hence, the name Messier 78. It was added to the catalogue on December 1780.

Messier 78 can be seen with visible light instruments, but it appears differently, as a vast glowing expanse with dark ribbons that are actually clouds of dust that are known to be a very good region for the creation of brand new stars. Instead of seeing the stars, the cosmic dust reflects and spreads the light from the young, bluish stars.

Two supergiant big, blue stars dubbed HD 38563A and HD 38563B are seen shining brightly within Messier 78. Reddish and yellow hues of the stars can also be seen.

According to a report from Space, the impressive VISTA telescope has discovered a good number of different objects in space since its inception in 2009. Its success because of its ability to see through cosmic dust has been a very useful addition to the space exploration.

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