Another Cat Picture on the Interwebz

The Cat's Paw RemasteredActually, not the whole cat, just his paw. This image of the Cat’s Paw Nebula (aka NGC 6334) was assembled using the same technique as color images of Pluto recently sent back from New Horizons. New Horizon used higher resolution black-and-white data from its LORRI camera and color data from the lower resolution RALPH instrument. This picture uses high resolution data from the European Southern Observatory’s MPG/ESO 2.2-m telescope and color data from images taken by amateur astronomers. Click the image to embiggen it.

The nebula is found in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). Although it appears to be close to the center of the Milky Way in the sky, it is relatively near to Earth, about 5500 light-years away. It’s about 50 light-years across. The Cat’s Paw is one of the most active star formation regions in the galaxy, containing massive, brilliant blue stars which have formed within the last few million years. It probably contains on the order of ten thousand stars. but many are hidden from view by the dust clouds fueling the rapid star formation.

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