The NGC1788 nebula, too dark to be seen with the naked eye, showed its colors in a photo taken with the help of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) - the most detailed photograph of this object so far.
The Cosmic Bat, hidden in the darkest recesses of the Orion constellation, spreads its misty wings in the interstellar space for two thousand light years. It is illuminated by young stars focused in its interior - despite being surrounded by opaque clouds of dust, their bright radiation illuminates the nebula. This view is a real treat for astronomy fans.
Cosmic Bat, or the reflective nebula NGC 1788
ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) captures the image of the ethereal NGC 1788 nebula, known as the Cosmic Bat, which is found in the constellation Orion. This nebula does not emit light, instead it is illuminated by a cluster of young stars in its center, poorly visible through the clouds of dust. Until recently, we could only fantasize about it. However, scientific instruments have come a long way since NGC 1788 was first described. The best proof of this is the photo taken by the VLT telescope, which is the most detailed portrait of this object.
NGC 1788 was first described by the astronomer William Herschel, who included it in a catalog later serving as the basis for one of the most important collections of deep sky objects: the New General Catalog (NGC). Although this airy nebula seems isolated from other cosmic objects, astronomers think it has been shaped by powerful star winds from massive stars outside of it. Streams of hot plasma are thrown from the top atmosphere of the star at incredible speeds, shaping the clouds that conceal the stars appearing inside the Cosmic Bat.
How exactly did this mysterious nebula have been photographed?
Captured in flight, with the smallest details, the dust wings of the Cosmic Bat were photographed on the twentieth anniversary of one of the most versatile ESO instruments - Focal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph 2 (FORS2).
FORS2 is mounted on the Antu telescope, one of the 8.2-meter VLT Main Telescopes at the Paranal Observatory. It has the ability to imaging large areas of the sky in great detail, which makes it a desirable element of ESO's most modern scientific instruments. Since its first light 20 years ago, FORS2 has become known as the "Swiss Army knife among astronomical instruments" .
This term derives from a uniquely wide set of functions. The versatility of FORS2 extends beyond purely scientific use - the possibility of obtaining beautiful, high-quality photos, such as those presented here, makes it a particularly useful tool for popularizing astronomy. That was exactly the case with the picture of the Bat. They were made as part of ESO's ESO Cosmic Gems program, a popular science initiative that uses ESO telescopes to take pictures of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects - for educational purposes and popularization.
FORS2 entertains and teaches
The program uses the time of telescopes, which for various reasons can not be used for scientific observation at FORS2 creates breathtaking pictures of the most interesting objects of the night sky, such as the intriguing reflection nebula. However, if the collected data turns out to be useful for future scientific purposes, the results of observations are recorded and made available to astronomers by the ESO Scientific Archive.
This is most likely going to be a photo of the NGC1788 nebula, which is breathtaking in itself and is a great candidate for a new wallpaper for my desktop. If you were looking for it in full resolution, just click here .
The Cosmic Bat in flight is one of the best photos taken with the Very Large Telescope