The complete GigaGalaxy Zoom trilogy
DR EMILY BALDWIN
Posted: September 28, 2009
The third and final installment of the GigaGalaxy Zoom project has now been released, completing the dive into our Milky Way Galaxy with a stunning view of the Lagoon Nebula.The third image from ESO's GigaGalaxy Zoom project uses the power of a professional telescope to zoom in on the Lagoon Nebula. Image: ESO.
Located four to five thousand light years away towards the constellation of Sagittarius, the Lagoon Nebula spans 100 light years across. The new 370-million pixel vista captured with the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2 metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile extends across a field of view more than one and a half square degrees – an area eight times larger than that of the full moon.
The Lagoon Nebula is a giant interstellar cloud awash with star-forming pods, seen in the image as dark patches that permeate the nebula. These represent huge clouds of dust and gas that are collapsing under their own weight to birth new generations of stars.The three images of ESO’s GigaGalaxy Zoom project showing the sky at different levels: from the view seen by the unaided eye to one seen through an amateur telescope, with a final zoom in onto the Lagoon Nebula as seen through a professional telescope. Image: ESO/S. Guisard/ S. Brunier.
The Lagoon Nebula also hosts the young open cluster NGC 6530 which is home to 50-100 stars in the lower left of the nebula. Observations suggest that the cluster resides slightly in front of the nebula itself, though it is still enshrouded by dust, as revealed by reddening of the starlight, which is caused by small dust particles scattering light.
The previous two GigaGalaxy Zoom images show the full sky as it appears with the unaided eye from one of the darkest deserts on Earth, and a rich region of the Milky Way using an amateur telescope, respectively. The final image uses the power of a professional telescope, thus linking the sky we can all see to the deep, apparently hidden, gems of the cosmos that professional astronomers study every day.
“The GigaGalaxy Zoom project’s dedicated website has proved very successful, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the world,” says project coordinator Henri Boffin. “With the trilogy now complete, viewers will be able to explore a magnificently detailed cosmic environment on many different scales and take a breathtaking dive into our Milky Way.”
See more at http://www.gigagalaxyzoom.org.
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