A cosmic master of disguise

Can you see the chameleon in this picture? No? Well, it's camouflaged! Yes, we are joking, but this Picture of the Week actually shows the Chamaeleon Cloud, or IC 2631. In the southern hemisphere, this cloud is visible in the sky for most of the year, and in this image, captured by ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), you can admire it in infrared light.

IC 2631 is a reflection nebula made of dust clouds that reflect the light emitted from nearby stars. The nebula is mainly illuminated by one of the youngest, most massive and brightest stars in its neighborhood, HD 97300, visible to the centre-right of the image. The Chamaeleon Cloud is in fact the brightest nebula in the Chamaeleon Complex, a vast region of gas and dust clouds –– much larger than what this image shows –– where numerous newborn and still-forming stars live.

The cloud you see here is packed full of star-making material: gas and dust. At optical wavelengths this region contains dark patches where dust completely blocks light from background sources. But this image was captured in infrared light, which can pass through dust almost unimpeded, allowing scientists to peer into the core of this cloud.


ESO/Meingast et al.

About the Image

Release date:17 July 2023, 06:00
Size:3192 x 3051 px

About the Object

Name:IC 2631
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Appearance : Reflection

Image Formats

Large JPEG
3.4 MB
Screensize JPEG
334.4 KB



268.1 KB
424.9 KB
602.9 KB
724.8 KB
993.9 KB


Position (RA):11 9 49.24
Position (Dec):-76° 33' 52.61"
Field of view:17.73 x 16.95 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 67.1° left of vertical