New VISTA Telescope Exposes Orion Nebula main content.

New VISTA Telescope Exposes Orion Nebula

by AMNH on


VISTA IR Orion Nebula
This wide-field view of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42) was taken with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.
Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

The VISTA telescope at Chile’s Paranal Observatory, which has been up and running since December 2009, has captured stunning new images of the Orion Nebula. By measuring infrared radiation emanating from the famous nebula, the telescope has finally seen into the heart of the vast stellar nursery.

This nebula, which is located below the “belt” of the constellation of Orion, can typically be seen from Earth with the naked eye. Large clouds of dust, however, have blocked optical wavelengths of light from reaching telescopes, preventing a clear view of the nebula’s center. By detecting the infrared radiation that penetrates dust clouds, astronomers are finally getting a look at the young stars shining in this previously hidden portion of the nebula.

These images are some of the first to be released from the new VISTA telescope; already they hint at the valuable new perspective astronomers are gaining by looking at the sky in near-infrared wavelengths of light.