Below the southern skies, the telescopes of Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, bask in the starlight of the brilliant Milky Way. Speckled with multi-colored stars, our home galaxy in this image stretches down into the city-lit horizon, just grazing past the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope (left) and SMARTS 1.5-meter Telescope (right). The Small and Large Magellanic Clouds that accompany our home galaxy are seen to the left of the Blanco telescope. In between the telescopes blooms a deep shade of red that permeates through the tendrils of the Milky Way. This is the Gum Nebula, an emission nebula that blazes with the light of gas ionized by its host stars. From our perspective it holds a bountiful number of cosmic objects, from globular clusters, to the Vela Pulsar, and even to an 11,000-year-old supernova remnant.
This photo was taken as part of the recent NOIRLab 2022 Photo Expedition to all the NOIRLab sites.