The Cat’s Paw Nebula

cat's pawThe Cat’s Paw Nebula (aka NGC 6334) lies in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). It is relatively near to Earth, at a distance of about 5500 light-years on line with the center of the galaxy. It is about 50 light-years across and is one of the most active star formation regions in the Milky Way, containing young, massive blue stars which are only a few million years old. It is made up of tens of thousands of stars, some of them visible and some hidden in clouds of gas and dust.

Image Credit: ESO / R. Gendler & R.M. Hannahoe

Quote of the Day

Thermodynamics is a funny subject. The first time you go through it, you don’t understand it at all. The second time you go through it, you think you understand it, except for one or two small points. The third time you go through it, you know you don’t understand it, but by that time you are so used to it, it doesn’t bother you any more.

—Arnold Sommerfeld

The Butterfly Nebula

butterfly_hstThis is NGC 6302 (aka The Butterfly Nebula). It is approximately 4,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius (the Scorpion). With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 °C, the dying central star of this planetary nebula shining brightly in ultraviolet light, but it’s hidden from direct view by a dense doughnut-shaped cloud of dust. This close-up of the nebula was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope‘s Wide Field Camera 3 which was installed during the final shuttle servicing mission. The dust torus (the doughnut) surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Click on the image to embiggen it.

Image Credit: NASA

NGC 1569

The NGC 1569 is a relatively nearby dwarf irregular galaxy in Camelopardalis. It’s characterized by a large starburst that has formed stars at a rate 100 times greater than that of the Milky Way during the last 100 million years.

The spectrum of NGC 1569 is blueshifted. This means that the galaxy is moving towards the Earth. In contrast, the spectra of most other galaxies are redshifted because of the expansion of the universe.

Image Credit: NASA