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Gemini South Telescope Catches a One-winged Butterfly

This breathtaking visible-light image, taken with the Gemini South telescope, looks as though it is ready to flutter off the screen. This apparently wispy object is an outflow of gas known as the Chamaeleon Infrared Nebula—so named because it is bright at some infrared wavelengths of light, although it can also be seen in visible light, as in this view. Hidden at the core of this reflection nebula, and at the center of this image, is the engine of the nebula, a low-mass star (less massive than our sun) that is eclipsed by a dark vertical band. Even though it is concealed from view, this young, cool star emits streams of fast-moving gas that have carved a tunnel through the interstellar cloud from which the young star formed. Infrared and visible light emitted by the star escapes along this tunnel and scatters off its walls, giving rise to the wispy reflection nebula.

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