Gaia's view of a dark nebula in Rho Ophiuchi – density map
The Rho Ophiuchi complex, a large stellar nursery in the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, as viewed by ESA's Gaia satellite after its first 14 months of operations. This view is not a photograph but was compiled by mapping the total density of stars detected by Gaia in each pixel of the image.
The image shows the distribution of all stars in the area, and clearly outlines the silhouette of dark clouds of gas and dust hiding background stars from view. Five bright stellar clusters are also visible: the brightest one, towards the right of the frame, is the globular cluster M4.
A complementary view of Rho Ophiuchi, created by mapping the total amount of radiation, or flux, recorded per pixel by Gaia, is available here.
This image was produced by André Moitinho, Márcia Barros, Carlos Barata from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and Hélder Savietto from Fork Research, Portugal. The creation of this and other similar images is described in the paper "Gaia Data Release 1: The archive visualisation service" by A. Moitinho et al. 2017, A&A, 605, A52.