Dark Nebula dominates the view of the Orion Constellation

Astronomers from NOIRLab have captured a spectacular image of a dark nebula LDN1622 in the Orion complex, 1300 light years from Earth
A dark nebula known as LDN 1622, captured using the Mosaic-3 instrument on the 4-meter Nicholas U. Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Arizona. Credit: NOIRLab

A dark, drifting nebula traverses a new extraordinary view of a vast star-forming region in the constellation of Orion. Known as LDN 1622, it is composed of dense interstellar gas and dust clouds. According to a statement from the NOIRLab of the US National Science Foundation (NSF), dark nebulae are so-called because their thick interstellar dust obscures the light of nearby stars and other objects.

LDN 1622 Nebula

LDN 1622 is located 1,300 light-years from Earth in the nearby Orion complex, a bustling region of star formation with young stars. Also known as the Boogeyman Nebula, it has a diameter of about 10 light-years. It contains enough dust to completely block the visible light emitted by background stars.

It lies in the plane of the Milky Way, 500 light-years away from us, precisely near the Barnard Loop, a cloud that surrounds the complex of stars and nebulas in Orion’s Belt and Sword. LDN 1621, a smaller nebula, is found on the same plane to the left of LDN 1622, immersed in red hydrogen nebulas that glow in the background at about 1,600 light-years away.

The recent image was taken using the 4-meter Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Arizona, managed by NOIRLab. Astronomers captured this view of the dark nebula in Orion using the telescope’s wide-field camera. It’s called Mosaic-3, the predecessor of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which began operating in 2020.

“This exchange highlights one of the advantages of ground-based astronomy. The ability to upgrade and replace instruments as new technologies become available” NOIRLab officials stated in the declaration. This new image, shared by NOIRLab on June 21, was taken in 2018.

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