Glowing Red at Kitt Peak

4. February 2024

Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, appears like a halo of light arching over the MDM Observatory’s Hiltner 2.4-meter Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. The whites of starlight and bluey black of shadowy trees feel commonplace on a dark night — but the reds in this image seem to cover the environment. What are the red clouds blooming in the sky? The red clouds are emission nebulae, clouds of gasses that have been so energized that they have lost some or all of their electrons. These gasses then emit light at various wavelengths, hence the name. These clouds look red because of the abundance of hydrogen. The largest of these blooms, located at the left end of the arch, is the Gum Nebula

Credits: KPNO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T. Slovinský

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