A Little Rocky Planet

The Rubin Auxiliary Telescope (AuxTel), with its open dome and deep red interior, looks to be inhabiting a little rocky planet floating through the expansive Milky Way galaxy in this image taken at Cerro Pachón in Chile. But in fact this image was created using a 360-degree panorama and composed into a photosphere image. The green and red light circling the horizon of the ‘planet’ is airglow, an atmospheric phenomenon caused when trace particles and gasses in the atmosphere become electrically charged or ionized. Their atoms emit light at various wavelengths when they recombine at night and faintly glow. The dark dust trails and red star-forming regions intertwined throughout the Milky Way are also prominently featured in this surreal view of the cosmos.

Off in the distance, on the lower left side of the ‘planet’, the geometric dome of Vera C. Rubin Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, can be seen. Rubin Observatory is a joint initiative of the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy (DOE) and is currently under construction. Once completed, Rubin will be operated jointly by NSF’s NOIRLab and DOE's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. It will conduct an unprecedented, decade-long survey called the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) that will revolutionize the field of astronomy and what we know about the Universe.

A fulldome version of this image can be viewed here, and a 360-degree panorama version can be found here.

This photo was taken as part of the NOIRLab 2022 Photo Expedition to all the NOIRLab sites. Petr Horálek, the photographer, is a NOIRLab Audiovisual Ambassador.


Rubin Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Horálek (Institute of Physics in Opava)

About the Image

Release date:Jan. 10, 2024, noon
Size:22123 x 29000 px

About the Object

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