Glory from gloom

January 31, 2018

The Lupus 3 star forming region lies within the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion), only 600 light-years away from Earth. It is part of a larger complex called the Lupus Clouds, which takes its name from the adjacent constellation of Lupus (The Wolf constellation ). The clouds resemble smoke billowing across a background of millions of stars, but in fact these clouds are a dark nebula.

Nebulae are great swathes of gas and dust strung out between the stars, sometimes stretching out over hundreds of light-years. While many nebulae are spectacularly illuminated by the intense radiation of hot stars, dark nebulae shroud the light of the celestial objects within them. They are also known as absorption nebulae, because they are made up of cold, dense particles of dust that absorb and scatter light as it passes through the cloud.

Famous dark nebulae include the Coalsack Nebula and the Great Rift (astronomy), which are large enough to be seen with the naked eye, starkly black against the brilliance of the Milky Way .

Lupus 3 has an irregular form, appearing like a misshapen snake across the sky. In this image it is a region of contrasts, with thick dark trails set against the glare of bright blue stars at the centre. Like most dark nebulae, Lupus 3 is an active star formation region, primarily composed of protostars and very young stars. Nearby disturbances can cause denser clumps of the nebula to contract under gravity, becoming hot and pressurised in the process. Eventually, a protostar is born out of the extreme conditions in the core of this collapsing cloud.

The two brilliant stars in the centre of this image underwent this very process. Early in their lives, the radiation they emitted was largely blocked by the thick veil of their host nebula, visible only to telescopes at infrared and radio wavelengths. But as they grew hotter and brighter, their intense radiation and strong stellar winds swept the surrounding areas clear of gas and dust, allowing them to emerge gloriously from their gloomy nursery to shine brightly.

These two stars are still very young -- so young that nuclear fusion has not yet been triggered in their cores. Instead, their brightness is caused by the conversion of gravitational energy into heat as their turbulent cores contract.

Understanding nebulae is critical for understanding the processes of star formation -- indeed, it is thought that the Sun formed in a star formation region very similar to Lupus 3 over four billion years ago. As one of the closest stellar nurseries, Lupus 3 has been the subject of many studies; in 2013, the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile captured a smaller picture of its dark smoke-like columns and brilliant stars (eso1303).
-end-
More information

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and by Australia as a strategic partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world's largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".

Links

Contacts

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: 49-89-3200-6655
Cell: 49-151-1537-3591
Email: rhook@eso.org

ESO

Related Lupus Articles from Brightsurf:

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
If renal remission is achieved therapeutically in cases of lupus nephritis (LN), the 10-year survival rate increases significantly.

Race-specific lupus nephritis biomarkers
A University of Houston biomedical researcher has discovered a difference in urinary biomarker proteins of lupus nephritis in patients according to race.

Lupus patients who take their medications lower their diabetes risk
Patients with lupus who take their medications as prescribed have much lower odds of developing type 2 diabetes, a common complication of the disease, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia.

Nearly 1 in 3 patients with lupus use prescription opioids for pain
A new study finds nearly one in three adults with lupus use prescription opioids to manage pain, despite a lack of evidence that opioids are effective for reducing pain from rheumatic diseases.

Developing therapeutic strategies for pregnant women with lupus
A highly gender-biased disease, lupus afflicts females some nine times more than males.

Lupus antibody target identified
Researchers have identified a specific target of antibodies that are implicated in the neuropsychiatric symptoms of lupus, according to human research published in JNeurosci.

B cells off rails early in lupus
Emory scientists could discern that in people with SLE, signals driving expansion and activation are present at an earlier stage of B cell differentiation than previously appreciated.

Can adverse childhood experiences worsen lupus symptoms?
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) encompass traumas such as abuse, neglect, and household challenges.

Unlocking the female bias in lupus
The majority of lupus patients are female, and new findings from the University of Pennsylvania shed light on why.

How a single faulty gene can lead to lupus
IBS-AIM (Academy of Immunology and Microbiology) research team at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea has discovered the role of a key gene involved in the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or lupus for short.

Read More: Lupus News and Lupus Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.