Halloween Astrophoto: The Witch Head Nebula

Article written: 31 Oct , 2013
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
by

Boo! Here’s a great shot of the Witch Head nebula, so named because it resembles the profile of a wicked witch. This nebula’s ‘official’ name is IC 2118, and it is just a cloud of interstellar gas and dust — nothing to be afraid of! The eerie shape is sculpted in part by radiation from the supergiant star Rigel, the brightest star of Orion. In fact, Rigel illuminates the nebula by reflecting off the dust grains, making it glow. Inside the nebula, young stars are being born.  This image was taken by a former NASA scientist/engineer Fred Herrmann of the Owl Mountain Observatory near Huntsville, Alabama — ftherrmann2012 on Flickr. You can see an infrared image of this same nebula taken by the WISE spacecraft.

You can see more great images on Universe Today’s Flickr group page (click here to access, or see the new “Photos” tab at the top of our page) and feel free join the group and upload any astronomical images you have taken.

 

Happy Halloween from all of us here at Universe Today!

The Witch Head nebula is estimated to be hundreds of light-years away in the constellation of Orion. This image was taken by the WISE spacecraft. Credit: NASA.

The Witch Head nebula is estimated to be hundreds of light-years away in the constellation of Orion. This image was taken by the WISE spacecraft. Credit: NASA.

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2 Responses

  1. JonHanford says

    I am curious as to the source material for this image. I see no attributions on ftherrmann2012’s Flickr page as to its origin but the image appears to me to be derived from Digital Sky Survey material. I mention this because images from the DSS are copyrighted: http://archive.stsci.edu/dss/copyright.html

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