Take a tour of the stunning Gum 41 nebula

Located in the picturesque southern constellation of Centaurus, the Gum 41 nebula takes up most of this image brought to you by the VLT Survey Telescope, hosted at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. Let’s take a closer look at this intricate structure.

Set against a colorful backdrop of stars, Gum 41 is a pleasantly symmetric example of a Strömgren sphere: a shell of hydrogen gas atoms glowing in rosy hues due to the radiation of the dazzling central star. While this star, called HD 100099, may appear to be one very bright object, it is actually thought to be two young, massive stars orbiting in such a tight embrace that they cannot be separated at the scale of this image.

This romantic region is home to many pairs like this, including the luminous object on the lower right outskirts of the nebula, HD 99944. Sadly, the love story in these stellar couples will have a tragic ending: unlike our Sun, these hot and massive stars tend to have short lifetimes of only a few million years, and eventually there will be no young stars left to make the nebula glow. One day, Gum 41 will fade into transparency and be lost to future astronomers forever.

Gum 41 is also a member of a much larger region, affectionately called the Running Chicken Nebula. Whether Gum 41 forms the foot or the head of the chicken is surprisingly controversial. Take a look here — what do you see?


ESO/VPHAS+ team. Acknowlegement: CASU

About the Image

Release date:8 April 2024, 06:00
Size:5609 x 5609 px

About the Object

Name:Gum 41
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Appearance : Reflection

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