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Tags: galaxy, dust

This is a long exposure (about an hour) made with an ordinary camera and colour film. It shows a crowded and dusty stretch of the southern Milky Way, centred on Scorpius. The bright yellow star Antares, in the body of the scorpion is at upper right and its stinging tail extends to the two close blue stars at centre left.

The plane of our galaxy, the Milky Way, runs roughly NE to SW across the middle of the picture, which is about 40 degrees across. At the extreme centre-left (in Sagittarius) lies the direction of the nucleus of the Galaxy, unseen behind dense clouds of dust. Filling the middle of the picture is a large but indistinct dark, almost sperical structure, seen only because it hides stars beyond it. This structure suggests an irregular inflated bubble, as though dust had been sent billowing from some central point by a gigantic wind. Of course this may be the origin of what we see here, with a hot stars providing the wind but it may also be a chance alignment of shreds of dust that criss-cross this part of the sky and congregate along the line of sight.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory