ESO records photo of the Flame Nebula “on fire” in the constellation Orion

A sensational image was released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), showing the Flame Nebula, part of the constellation of Orion, well…”in flames”.

The image taken by the telescope appears to show an incandescent inferno, but in reality it is just a large volume of cosmic dust and gas – two common factors in the region and which are essential objects for the birth and evolution of stars .

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Image has visual detail highlighting the Flame Nebula, in the constellation Orion
The Flame Nebula (orange frame) has a high amount of hydrogen, being a cradle for the birth of stars and planets (Image: ESO/Courtesy)

“As astronomers say, whenever a new telescope or instrument comes along, look at Orion: there will always be something new and interesting to discover [there],” said Thomas Stanke, former ESO astronomer and lead author of a study on the region, via a statement posted on the telescope's website.

For localization purposes only, the region you are looking for is on the left side of the image.

The Orion region is very important for astronomy , precisely because it is where the "Orion Molecular Cloud Complex" is located, an area positioned somewhere between 1,300 and 1,600 light-years from Earth and which, the statement says, serves as a point of origin for planets and stars of various kinds.

Despite all this fondness for fire, the Flame Nebula is actually quite cold. In fact, it's so cold that it almost touches the so-called “absolute zero” (-273°C). The color and brightness effects also have an explanation: the star Alnitak (ζ Ori) emits a high degree of ultraviolet light inside the nebula, which knocks electrons from the hydrogen clouds located inside it. These electrons eventually recombine with the ionized hydrogen, resulting in the visual show you see in the image above (which also shows the reflective nebulae NGC 2071 and NGC 2023, as well as the iconic Horsehead Nebula).

“The different colors indicate the velocity of the gas,” ESO said in the statement. "The Flame Nebula and the objects around it are moving away from us, with the red clouds in the background moving faster than the yellow ones in front."

The full study was published in Astronomy & Astrophysics .

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The ESO post records photo of the Flame Nebula “on fire” in the constellation Orion first appeared in Gaze Digital .

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