The ESO has released a three gigapixel image that captures three beautiful astronomical objects – the famous Eagle Nebula, the Omega Nebula, and the lesser known Sharpless 2-54 – in its scope. The image is in fact a mosaic made from hundreds of smaller (yet still massive) 256 megapixel images, that were captured by the ESO's VLT Survey Telescope, located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.
The nebulae and Sharpless 2-54, which lie some 7,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellations of Serpens and Sagittarius, are essentially vast clouds of gas and dust that have clumped together to create impressive star-formation regions.
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The light from these newly born stars illuminates the surrounding material, and interacts with hydrogen embedded within the gas clouds, causing the nebulae to emit their own pinkish light. The resultant environment has been captured in stunning detail in the new ESO image, in which the dense clouds of cosmic dust contrast strikingly with the stars.
Though difficult to define, the Omega Nebula is situated to the left of the chaotic image, while the Eagle Nebula dominates the centre. Sharpless 2-54 meanwhile is located to the right.
Scroll down to watch an ESO video zooming in on the three star formation regions as well as a camera pan of the image.