Halloween Astrophoto: The Witch Head Nebula

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.

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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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