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Barnard 253, Barnard 63 and other dark nebulae in the constellation of serpens

Object description:

Our image shows the large dark cloud Barnard 253 almost in the center of the image. In the constellation of the Serpens there are numerous dark nebulae with different optical transmittances. Barnard 253 appears about as large as the moon in the sky and still lets some of the light of the stars behind it pass. Barnard 63 (partially visible at the top of the image) contains so much gas and dust masses that no light can pass through the nebula in the optical range.

In the constellation of the Serpens there are numerous, large dark clouds, which were first catalogued photographically by the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard. The complete catalog of over 300 dark clouds by Barnard can be found at this URL. Barnard was self-taught and one of the pioneers of astrophotography. In more recent times, detailed studies by K. Dobashi in infrared light followed.

Dark clouds or dark nebulae are large collections of interstellar matter that either absorb the light of stars behind them (e.g. the Coal Sack) or cover parts of H-II regions or reflection nebulae (e.g. Barnard 33, the Horsehead Nebula in the constellation Orion).

The shape of such dark clouds is usually irregular and without clearly defined outer boundaries. Many of the dark clouds have proper names, like the Snake Nebula or the Pipe Nebula. The image shows impressively the different densities of the dark nebulae.

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