Flame Nebula is Lit in New Radio Image

Jan 10, 2022 | Daily Space, Nebulae, Star Forming Region

IMAGE: The Flame Nebula is the large feature on the left half of the central, yellow rectangle. The smaller feature on the right is the reflection nebula NGC 2023. To the top right of NGC 2023, the iconic Horsehead Nebula seems to emerge heroically from the “flames”. The three objects are part of the Orion cloud, a giant gas structure located between 1300 and 1600 light-years away. CREDIT: ESO/Th. Stanke & ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Stars often get a bad rep in astronomy because they go through most of their lives doing nothing more interesting than maybe pulsating or flaring. But the drama they create during their birth and death is definitely something worth watching.

And the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, or APEX, has been watching an amazing star-forming region. Called the Flame Nebula, this cloud of dust, gas, and young stars is a favorite for many amateur astronomers and is part of the greater Orion Star Forming region. APEX sees the sky in millimeter and sub-millimeter light – colors that can be called either radio or long infrared. In these colors, the nebula’s cold material shines like fire, as vibrant details in the dust patterns are revealed.

While ESO released this image as a holiday gift. A paper led by Thomas Stanke on this work has been accepted to Astronomy & Astrophysics. A preprint discusses how this image reveals the role of carbon monoxide in this cloud.

This image is basically a thousand words that explain why we need to always look up.

More Information

ESO photo release

“The APEX Large CO Heterodyne Orion Legacy Survey (ALCOHOLS). I. Survey overview,” Thomas Stanke et al., to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics (preprint on arxiv.org)

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