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Did a telescope reveal a 'hole' in space?

European astronomers took a break from looking at stars, and instead focused on an apparent empty spot in space.

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This image made available by the European Southern Observatory on Aug. 20, 2013 using radio and visible light frequencies shows the Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47. The orange and green, lower right, of the newborn star reveal a large energetic jet moving away from the Earth, which in the visible is hidden by dust and gas. To the left, in pink and purple, the visible part of the jet is seen, streaming partly towards the Earth. Astronomers say these illuminated jets from the newborn star are spewing out faster than ever measured before and are more energetic than previously thought.

H. Arce, Bo Reipurth/ESO/FILE/AP

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A fascinating picture captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) shows what looks like to be a big, dark hole, a black spot over an otherwise starry photo. 

Shot with a 2.2-meter MPG/ESO telescope, the remarkably sharp image depicts a dark spot named LDN1774, with tentacle-like arms reaching out from the spot's center.

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As the observatory notes in a press release, this is no hole. Instead, the dark spot is made up of thick, opaque dust that blocks the stars. 

This dust helps form a dark molecular cloud, a cold, dense area where large quantities of dust and molecular gas – mostly molecular helium and hydrogen – come together and block out the visible light given off by more distant stars. In the densest regions of molecular clouds, stars form.

Most cultures have identified constellations by connect the dots in the sky, but the Australian Aborigines have also done the opposite. The  Kuringai people's 'Emu in the sky' is formed out of the dark spots – that is, the molecular clouds – in the Milky Way.


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