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💫RCW 108

Remarkable, wide-field infrared image allows to see in unprecedented detail the inner regions of RCW 108, a large complex of stars and nebulae in the southern Milky Way. It is one of the widest, "deepest" and most spectacular infrared astronomical images ever obtained of a starforming region. It is based on approx. 600 individual exposures with the SOFI multi-mode instrument on the ESO 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT) at the ESO La Silla Observatory (Chile).

In visible light, the Eastern edge of the cloud appears as a bright rim; the same edge is present, although less prominent to the left in the infrared image. This is where the outer surface of the cloud is eroded and later completely dissolved by the strong ultraviolet light of a nearby cluster of stars, that lies beyond the edge of the infrared image.

Dust not only dims the light of objects located behind the cloud, but also "reddens" it. This is because shorter-wavelength (e.g., blue) light is scattered out of the line-of-sight more efficiently than is longer-wavelength (e.g., red) light.


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