A love affair with the universe.
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Behind these clouds lie rich areas of star formation. Published: February 15, 2012 —
A new image from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile shows a sinuous filament of cosmic dust more than 10 light-years long. In it, newborn stars are hidden, and dense clouds of gas are on the verge of collapsing to form yet more stars. It is one of the regions of star formation closest to us. The cosmic dust grains are so cold that observations at wavelengths of around 0.04 inch (1 millimeter), such as these made with the LABOCA camera on APEX, are needed to detect their faint glow.
The Taurus Molecular Cloud in the constellation Taurus the Bull lies about 450 light-years from Earth. This image shows two parts of a long filamentary structure in this cloud, which are known as Barnard 211 and Barnard 213. Their names come from Edward Emerson Barnard’s photographic atlas of the “dark markings of the sky,” compiled in the early 20th century. In visible light, these regions appear as dark lanes, lacking in stars. Barnard correctly argued that this appearance was due to “obscuring matter in space.”