Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Huge Plasma Bow Wins

By | September 14, 2023

A photo of a huge arc of plasma near the Andromeda Galaxy has won this year’s prestigious photography award.

A team of amateur astronomers led by Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner and Yann Sainty captured the surprising discovery.

Scientists are now studying the newly discovered giant gas cloud.

It may be the largest such structure in the near environment of the Universe.

Judge and astrophotographer László Francsics said the image was as spectacular as it was precious.

“It not only presents Andromeda in a new way, but also raises the quality of astrophotography to the next level,” he said.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, which organizes the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, also awarded the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year award to two 14-year-old Chinese boys.

The Running Chicken Nebula

The Running Chicken Nebula – Winner of Young Astronomical Photographer of the Year

Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang collaborated to capture this image of the Running Chicken Nebula, IC 2944, located in the constellation Centaurus, 6,000 light-years from Earth.

Embedded in the glowing gas of the nebula, the star cluster Collinder 249 is visible.

Yuri Beletsky, a judge and professional astronomer, described it as an extraordinarily beautiful image.

“The photographers were able to capture the vibrant colors of the nebula and the embedded star cluster.”

The Young Astronomical Photographer of the Year award is reserved for people under the age of 16.

Judges reviewed more than 4,000 entries from around the world.

The images will go on display in an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in London from Saturday.

Check out more winning and much-loved images:

A vivid aurora on Skagsanden beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Circle of Light – Second place in the Aurora category

This image by Andreas Ettl shows the Northern Lights reflected on Skagsanden Beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

The mountain in the background is Hustinden, which the aurora seems to surround.

The Moon passes in front of the planet Mars

Set Mars – Winner in the Our Moon category

Ethan Chappel captured this image, from Cibolo, Texas, USA, of a Mars occultation that occurred on December 8, 2022.

During the occultation, the Moon passed in front of the planet Mars, which allowed the photographer to capture both objects together.

The image shows Mars behind the southern side of the Moon in impressive detail.

A wolf-shaped molecular cloud

The Dark Wolf, Fenrir – Highly recommended in the Stars and Nebulae category

This image, taken from Canberra, Australia, shows a thick, dark, wolf-shaped molecular cloud known as the Wolf Nebula or Fenrir Nebula.

The photographer, James Baguley, chose a starless image to emphasize the beautiful red background, which forms a dense background of hydrogen gas.

A photograph of the Sun with a huge filament in the shape of a question mark

A Sun Question – Winner in the Our Sun category

Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau made this image of the Sun from Rafaela, Santa Fe, Argentina.

It shows a huge filament in the shape of a question mark. Solar filaments are arcs of plasma in the Sun’s atmosphere shaped by magnetic fields. The photo is a mosaic of two panels.

An image of atmospheric luminescence

Grand Cosmic Fireworks – Winner in the Skyscapes category

Spirits are an extremely rare phenomenon of atmospheric luminescence that appears like fireworks.

Angel An captured this photograph from the highest ridge of the Himalayan Mountains at Lake Puma Yumco, Tibet.

Galactic nebulae around the star YY Hya

New class of galactic nebulae around the star YY Hya – Winner of the Stars and Nebulae category

Another of the judges’ favorite images was that of Marcel Dreschsler. The photograph captures a previously unknown galactic nebula containing a pair of stars surrounded by a common envelope, adding another exciting discovery to the winning images.

An image of a shipwreck on the coast of Namibia at night

Zeila – Winner in the People and Space category

The northernmost part of Namibia’s Atlantic coast is one of the most treacherous coasts in the world and has earned the name the Skeleton Coast.

The ship in this photo, Zeila, ran aground on August 25, 2008 and is still in a well-preserved state.

The image, taken by Vikas Chander, shows the delicate colors of different types of stars in the sky above the wreck.

The planet Jupiter

Jupiter near opposition – Second place in the Planets, Comets and Asteroids category

An image of Jupiter 30 minutes after crossing the meridian was taken from Singapore by Marco Lorenzi.

The Great Red Spot and many details of the turbulent atmosphere, composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, including several smaller storms, are clearly visible.

The constellations of Cepheus and Lacerta.

Sh2-132: Blinded by the Light – Sir Patrick Moore Award for Best Newcomer

The Sh2-132 complex is located near the border of the constellations Cepheus and Lacerta and contains several deep-sky structures.

Aaron Wilhelm’s photography includes 70 hours of data, and the rich interplay of all the gases reveals something different every time you look at it.

A black hole at the center of the Perseus Galaxy

Black Echo – Annie Maunder Award for Image Innovation

Taking audio source material from NASA’s Chandra Sonification Project (Nasa Chandra X-Ray Observatory, May 2022), John White visually captured the sound of the black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy.

The audio was played through a speaker to which White attached a Petri dish, darkened at the bottom and then filled with about 3 mm (0.11 in) of water.

Using a macro lens and halogen light in a dark room, White experimented with audio and volumes to explore the various patterns created in the liquid.

All images are subject to copyright.

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