From the Hubble until the James Webb Space TelescopeWhen you think of tools that capture images of space, some of the first examples that come to mind are probably space telescopes. These telescopes have the advantage of being above water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere, which can distort readings and allow them to observe the universe in great detail. But there are also advantages to ground-based telescopes, such as being able to build much larger structures and more easily upgrade these telescopes with new instruments.
One such ground-based telescope is the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope. As its name suggests, it is in fact very large, as it is made up of four separate telescopes, each of which has an 8.2-meter (27-foot) primary mirror, and which work together to peer into space in visible light. and infrared wavelengths. On the telescope called Yepun is an instrument called MUSE, or the Multiple Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), which uses a technology called adaptive optics to collect high-resolution data over areas of space.
ESO recently shared this image taken by the MUSE instrument, showing the impressive spiral galaxy NGC 4303. This image represents spectroscopy data that has been colorized to show different elements that are present, collected as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby Galaxies project. (PHANGS). This galaxy is a type called a starburst galaxy, which means it is a site of vigorous star formation, and studying it can help us learn how stars are born.
“Stars form when clouds of cold gas collapse,” Explain IT’S. “Energetic radiation from newborn stars will heat and ionize the surrounding remaining gas. The ionized gas will glow, acting as a beacon of ongoing star formation. In this stunning, jewel-like image, this glowing gas can be seen as the swirl of gold: the direct trails of stars being born.
“The golden glow is the result of combining observations taken at different wavelengths of light with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Here gas clouds of ionized oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur are shown in blue, green, and red, respectively.”