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Herschel telescope discerns into the 'heart of Eagle'

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The image shows a dark cloud 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Aquila where some 700 stars are undergoing the process of birth. Image credit: ESA

PARIS (BNS): Discerning deep inside a dark cloud replete with activities of star birth, European Space Agency’s Herschel telescope has captured a never-before-seen picture of the object present in the heart of the Aquila constellation.

The dark cloud, located 1,000 light years away in the Aquila constellation which is also called Eagle, is covered with dense dust.

Herschel, by using two of its instruments – the Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver – has taken the image where stars are forming at surprising speed.

The two bright regions in the image are areas where large newborn stars are causing hydrogen gas to shine, ESA said.

Embedded within the dusty filaments in the Aquila image are 700 condensations of dust and gas that will eventually become stars.

Out of them, 100 are protostars which are in their final stages of formation. The rest 600 objects are insufficiently developed to be considered protostars, but they too will eventually become another generation of stars, according to astronomers.

The imaged cloud is part of the Gould’s Belt – a giant ring of stars that circles the night sky. Our Solar System lies near the centre of the belt. The Gould’s Belt has supplied bright stars to many constellations including the Orion, Scorpius and Crux.

The Herschel mission will target 14 other such star-forming regions as part of the Gould’s Belt Key Programme, the space agency said.

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