The G49 filament seen by ESA’s Herschel space observatory. With a total mass over 80 000 solar masses, this huge but slender structure of gas and dust extends over about 280 light-years in length, while its diameter is only about 5 light-years.
Cooler gas and dust is seen in red and yellow, with temperatures as low as –252ºC. In the densest and coolest clumps, the seeds of new generations of stars are taking shape. A brighter clump of matter is visible at the left tip of the wispy thread. This filament is about 18 000 light-years away.
The image is a composite of the wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 350 microns (red) and spans about 1.17x0.93º. The image is oriented with northeast towards the left of the image and southwest towards the right.