RCW120

The RCW catalogue was created by astronomers Alex Rodgers, Colin Campbell, and John Whiteoak in the 1960s at Mount Stromlo in Australia. The catalogue surveyed the southern Milky Way looking for regions of emission from ionised hydrogen atoms getting back together. This is called H-alpha emission and occurs at the specific wavelength of 656.3 nm. That puts it in the visible part of the spectrum and it is quite a pleasant red colour to look at.

ESO have just released a new image of one of those RCW nebulae - RCW120 - combining observations of the ionised hydrogen and separate observations of the cold gas and dust.

RCW120
Colour composite image of RCW120. CREDIT: ESO/APEX/DSS2/SuperCosmos
The image shows the massive hot star in the centre which is ionising the hydrogen gas surrounding it. The ionised areas were observed in the SuperCosmos H-alpha survey and are displayed in red (for once the red isn't a false colour). The blue parts of the image show submillimetre radiation from the cold gas and dust and were observed with the cool (literally, as it is cooled to 0.3 K) LABOCA bolometer camera on ESO's APEX telescope. Although both observations have been shown separately before, combining them together in a colour image makes it much easier to see the differences between them and makes it far prettier.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 11th Nov 2008 (13:08 GMT) | Permalink
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