INDIA: Barnard 68 is a dark absorption nebula in our Milky Way galaxy towards the southern constellation Ophiuchus.
Astronomers now refer to this void or hole as a dark molecular cloud. Nearly all of the visible light emitted by the nearby background stars is absorbed here due to the dense concentration of dust and molecular gas.
The interiors of molecular clouds are among the coldest and most remote regions in the cosmos due to their eerily dark surroundings.
Given that there are no stars in the middle and that Barnard 68 is roughly 500 light-years away and half a light-year across, this means that the star is very close to us.
According to NASA, the specific process by which molecular clouds like Barnard 68 develop is unknown; it is believed that these clouds are plausible sites for the birth of new stars.
Studies and observations indicate that Barnard 68 would likely collapse and create a new star system. Infrared light can be used to see past the cloud.
The updated data from ESO unambiguously demonstrate that Barnard 68 is currently in the very early stages of collapse and is heading toward star formation.
The length of such a stage is relatively brief, on the order of 100,000 years; therefore, it is likely to be unusual to see a cloud during this phase.
Since the obscuration would have been much higher—of the order of hundreds of magnitudes—had the collapse continued for a bit longer, it would not have been possible to see through this cloud today.