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💫Dark Cloud B68


This dark cloud is situated at a distance of about 500 light-years (160 pc) towards the southern constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent-holder). The VLT photo shows it as a compact, opaque and rather sharply defined object, the central parts of which are so dense that they completely block out the light from the stars behind.

It is known that clouds like B68 at some moment begin to contract and subsequently transform themselves into normal, hydrogen-burning stars. But how exactly does this happen? And what is going on just now inside B68 ? Is it currently at the beginning of the contraction phase or have stars already been formed? How dense and heavy is it really?

Answers to some of these basic questions are now being provided by new and unique observations in the infrared part of the spectrum with the SOFI multi-mode instrument at the ESO 3.5-m New Technology Telescope (NTT) at La Silla. For the first time, it has been possible to look right through even the most opaque regions of such an object and learn what is inside in unsurpassed detail.


Credit:
ESO

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