THE SERPENT ON THE HUNT
Image Credit & Copyright: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, T. Abbott and NOAO/AURA/NSF. CLICK image for larger view and look below for links and information.
What a stunning image of what appears to be (with a little imagination) a serpent of sorts violently leaping from the depths of the universe to devour an entire unsuspecting galaxy; its alien-like mouth open wide for the attack……pretty amazing object right?!
In reality this is CG4 and it’s what’s known as a cometary globule. CG’s are isolated pockets of dense gas and dust (similar to Bok globules just larger) within the galaxy. This material contains the building blocks of life and will someday be commanded by gravity to condense, contract, heat and create new star systems. The head of our serpent is roughly 1.5 light years in diameter while the body stretches about 8 light years in length and it contains enough material within it to generate 4-8 sun sized stars. The surrounding stars illuminate this object beautifully making for an eerie beautiful red glow.
Oh and there’s no chance of that edge on spiral galaxy (ESO 257-19) being swallowed; it’s much larger and about 118 million light years more distant than the object we’re viewing. Once again the universe does incredible things for one’s perspective…….
Travis Rector of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) & Tim Abbott of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) created this image using the 157-inch (4 meter) Victor M. Blanco Telescope at CTIO about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of La Serna, Chile. They used a 64-megapixel Mosaic imaging camera with blue, green, near-infrared, and hydrogen-alpha filters to expose the image.
NAME: CG4, Cometary Globule 4.
WHAT IS IT?: Cometary Globule.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Head is roughly 1.5 light years in diameter and body stretches roughly 8 light years in length.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: 1300 light years.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Puppis in the Gum Nebula region.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 7h 33.6m / DEC -46d 55m.
National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) page for this image: https://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im1000.html
NOAO nebulae gallery that this image can be found in: http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/nebulae.html