cerro tololo inter american observatory

NGC 3576: The Statue of Liberty Nebula : Whats happening in the Statue of Liberty nebula? Bright stars and interesting molecules are forming and being liberated. The complex nebula resides in the star forming region called RCW 57. This image showcases dense knots of dark interstellar dust, bright stars that have formed in the past few million years, fields of glowing hydrogen gas ionized by these stars, and great loops of gas expelled by dying stars. A detailed study of NGC 3576, also known as NGC 3582 and NGC 3584, uncovered at least 33 massive stars in the end stages of formation, and the clear presence of the complex carbon molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons . PAHs are thought to be created in the cooling gas of star forming regions, and their development in the Suns formation nebula five billion years ago may have been an important step in the development of life on Earth. The featured image was taken at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. via NASA

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This composite image is a view of the colorful Helix Nebula taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Mosaic II Camera on the 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The object is so large that both telescopes were needed to capture a complete view. The Helix is a planetary nebula, the glowing gaseous envelope expelled by a dying, sun-like star. The Helix resembles a simple doughnut as seen from Earth. But looks can be deceiving. New evidence suggests that the Helix consists of two gaseous disks nearly perpendicular to each other.

One possible scenario for the Helix’s complex structure is that the dying star has a companion star. One disk may be perpendicular to the dying star’s spin axis, while the other may lie in the orbital plane of the two stars. The Helix, located 690 light-years away, is one of the closest planetary nebulas to Earth.

The Hubble images were taken on November 19, 2002; the Cerro Tololo images on Sept. 17-18, 2003.

Object Name: Helix Nebula

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASA, ESA, C.R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt University), M. Meixner and P. McCullough (STScI)

Time And Space

Cerro Tololo Trails : Early one moonlit evening car lights left a wandering trail along the road to the Chilean Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Setting stars left the wandering trails in the sky. The serene view toward the mountainous horizon was captured in a telephoto timelapse image and video taken from nearby Cerro Pachon, home to Gemini South. Afforded by the mountaintop vantage point, the clear, long sight-line passes through layers of atmosphere. The changing atmospheric refraction shifts and distorts the otherwise steady apparent paths of the stars as they set. That effect also causes the distorted appearance of Sun and Moon as they rise or set near a distant horizon. via NASA

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