The Barnard 68 molecular cloud as viewed by ESA's Gaia satellite using information from the mission's second data release.
There are no stars observed in this dense nebula, but it is thought to be a stellar nursery that may host the seeds of future stars. Gaia's data could help astronomers study the three-dimensional structure of this cloud by measuring distances to the stars near its edges.
This view is not a photograph but has been compiled by mapping the total amount of radiation detected by Gaia in each pixel, combined with measurements of the radiation taken through different filters on the spacecraft to generate colour information.
Acknowledgement: Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC); A. Moitinho / A. F. Silva / M. Barros / C. Barata, University of Lisbon, Portugal; H. Savietto, Fork Research, Portugal.
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