Astronomers Discover A 500 Light-Years Long Eerie ‘Dark Spot’ In The Universe With No Stars And It Will Blow Your Mind

It may seem as though an extraterrestrial civilization tore the fabric of the cosmos apart to create the enigmatic area of darkness.
Did someone tear a patch of the universe? Imagine looking up and seeing an infinite number of stars. Then, unexpectedly, a black region where nothing can be seen emerges in your telescope, surrounded by stars.

This spooky region of darkness surrounded by many stars may seem to be a black hole, but it is really something far more disturbing.

This region of space, known as Barnard 68, is arguably the loneliest, darkest, and coldest in the cosmos.

This picture is a color combination of visible and near-infrared photographs of Barnard 68. It was taken in March 1999 using the 8.2-m VLT ANTU telescope and the multi-mode FORS1 instrument. The tiny cloud is fully opaque at these wavelengths due to the obscuring impact of dust particles inside its center.
This picture is a combination of visible and near-infrared photographs of Barnard 68’s black cloud. In March of 1999, it was collected using the 8.2-m VLT ANTU telescope and the multi-mode FORS1 instrument. The little cloud is completely opaque at these wavelengths due to the action of dust particles inside it.

Scientists describe Barnard 68 as a black absorption nebula or Bok globule.

Located near the southern constellation Ophiuchus, within our own galaxy and at a distance of around 400 light-years, the strange patch of darkness may seem as if an extraterrestrial civilization tore apart the universe’s fabric.
But probably it isn’t.

Because of its composition, Barnard 68 seems to be so black and chilly.

Barnard 68 is composed of so much dust and gas that it obstructs everything behind it.

There is not a single star visible between it and the Sun.

According to NASA:

What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorbs practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68, pictured above. That no stars are visible in the centre indicates that Barnard 68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds like Barnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to form.

Notable is the fact that Barnard 68 is exclusively opaque at visible-light wavelengths.

Using the Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal, scientists detected at least 3,700 obstructed background Milky Way stars, of which 1,000 are visible at infrared wavelengths.

B68 is a black cloud located around 500 light-years (160 parsecs) away from the southern constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent-holder). This picture depicts the sky region of the so-called Bok globule Barnard 68 — also known as the Dark Cloud — photographed in six distinct wavebands, from the blue to the near-infrared spectral region, in a clockwise direction.

According to scientists, Barnard 68 has about twice the mass of the Sun and a diameter of a half light-year.

Due to the well-defined boundaries of Barnard 68 and other characteristics, scientists think this molecular cloud is on the approach to gravitational collapse.

Within the next two hundred thousand years, Barnard 68 will condense into low-mass solar-type stars, produced in isolation and surrounded by diffuse, hot interstellar plasma, according to experts.

Reference(s): NASA