Technology news

Dark Energy Camera Captures ‘Lobster Nebula’ in Stunning Red

NOIRLab’s dark energy camera located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile has captured a stunning image of the star-forming nebula NGC 6357, also known as the Lobster Nebula.

The Dark Energy Camera was specifically designed to help the Dark Energy Survey discover and understand dark energy, the unseen phenomenon that physicists believe is responsible for the accelerating acceleration of the universe. But as the camera searches for this enigma, it also captures stunning images of distant cosmic objects.

The latest image released by NOIRLab on September 12 captures the Lobster Nebula, located about 8,000 light-years from our planet. The Lobster Nebula is home to the open star cluster Pismois 24 near its center, which is home to unusually bright and massive stars, which is revealed further in the image.

In contrast to the overwhelming red color of the rest of the nebula, the areas surrounding these young stars have a slightly bluish glow that is caused by the emission of ionized hydrogen gas from star forming regions. The nebula itself is an intricate tapestry of gas, black dust, newly born stars, and stars still forming.

The intricate pattern of the nebula is formed due to interstellar winds, radiation pressures, magnetic fields and gravity which influence its shape.

To create this image, the Dark Energy Camera captured multiple images of the Lobster Nebula, with different filters each time. Each image contains a single color that encompasses a particular range of light waves. After that, imaging specialists took these individual images and assigned a corresponding color to each one. They then stacked the images on top of each other to create a composite image that simulates what the nebula would have looked like if it were brighter.