NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 29 January 2023: An eerie hole in the sky | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 29 January 2023: An eerie hole in the sky

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 29 January 2023 is a dreadful dark molecular cloud. What is it? Find out.

| Updated on: Jan 29 2023, 15:06 IST
Top astronomy photos of the week by NASA: Galaxy wars, Nebula, Moon to Sun, check them out
Barnard 68 Nebula
1/7 On January 14, NASA released an image of Perihelion Sun 2023, the image was taken after January 4, at the Earth's closest approach to the Sun. It was taken less than 24 hours after the earth's close approach. (Peter Ward (Barden Ridge Observatory))
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2/7 On January 15, another photograph was released of The Crab Nebula snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. ( NASA, ESA, Hubble, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU))
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3/7 On January 16, NASA released an image of Moon Enhanced. The featured image is a composite of multiple images enhanced to bring up real surface features. The dark areas in the image, called maria, have fewer craters and were once seas of molten lava. Additionally, the image colours, although based on the moon's real composition, are changed, and exaggerated. (Darya Kawa Mirza)
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4/7 On January 17, the image of unexpected clouds toward the Andromeda Galaxy was released. (Yann Sainty & Marcel Drechsler)
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5/7 Image of MACS0647: Gravitational Lensing of the Early Universe Captured by James Webb Space Telescope was released by NASA on January 18. ( NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI), Rebecca Larson (UT), Yu-Yang Hsiao (JHU); Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI); Text: Michael Rutkowski (Minn. St. U. Mankato))
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6/7 On January 19, the image of The Seagull Nebula was released. The complex of gas and dust clouds with other stars of the Canis Majoris OB1 association spans over 200 light-years. (Carlos Taylor)
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7/7 Galaxy Wars: M81 and M82, this image was released on January 20. On the right, with grand spiral arms and bright yellow core is spiral galaxy M81.  (Andreas Aufschnaiter)
Barnard 68 Nebula
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Barnard 68, a dark absorption nebula or molecular cloud is 500 light-years away. (Image Credit: FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO)

NASA takes you on a quick virtual tour of different places in the deep cosmos on a daily basis. Today, the space agency has shared a dreadful image in which stars have mysteriously disappeared from the centre. It looks like there is a hole in the sky! Where did all the stars go? NASA explained that it is a dark molecular cloud. NASA says that it is known as Barnard 68, which is one of the most notable dark absorption nebulae in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus.

“Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorbs practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe,“ NASA explained about the image.

But why are there no stars in the centre? NASA says that it indicates that Barnard 68 is relatively nearby. It is approximately 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. How molecular clouds like Barnard 68 formed is not known, but scientists are sure that these clouds are themselves likely places for the birth of the new stars. “In fact, Barnard 68 itself has been found likely to collapse and form a new star system. It is possible to look right through the cloud in infrared light,” NASA said.

Beyond the dark centre of the cloud

The European Southern Observatory explained that the central part of the cloud is so dense that it completely blocks out the light coming from the stars behind it. ESO says “It is known that clouds like B68 at some moment begin to contract and subsequently transform themselves into normal, hydrogen-burning stars.”

Why do these clouds look dark? The reason is that they contain myriads of submicron-sized solid particles, basically interstellar dust grains.

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First Published Date: 29 Jan, 15:03 IST