World Beauties

On the trail of the Cosmic Cat

Have you heard of the Cat’s Paw Nebula? This is not a joke, it is a cloud of radiant gas very similar to the gigantic footprint of a cosmic gas traveling through the Universe.


In 1837 it was recorded for the first time by the British John Herschel during his stay in South Africa. (The same one who was said to have seen life on the Moon). At the time he used one of the largest telescopes in the world, although in observation he only noticed the brightest part of the nebula.


What’s the point? Oh, that yesterday Wednesday, the European Southern Observatory (ESO, for its acronym in English) released an impressive image of the vast cloud. This new photograph of the complex zone of gas and dust where numerous massive stars are born – also known as NGC 6334 – was created from images taken with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) instrument. This instrument is installed in a 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory, in the northern region of Coquimbo, one of the three that ESO has in Chile.

The Cat’s Paw Nebula is about 5,500 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Scorpius and covers an area of ​​sky slightly larger than the full Moon, with an extension of about 50 light-years. Its red color is due to hydrogen gas from the glow of hot, young stars that are born within it and have a mass equivalent to about ten times that of the Sun.

According to the ESO, the radiant gas cloud may contain several tens of thousands of stars buried in dust, making it difficult to study.

Isn’t that impressive?

Source: EFE,

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