Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (Links below).
It’s October and Halloween is once again upon us and to ring in fall’s favorite holiday I believe a few “spooky” space photos are in order. Let’s get creepy!
This wonderfully creepy nebula in the constellation Taurus is cataloged as IRAS 05437+2502 and was thankfully given the name “IRAS Ghost”. It was discovered by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) in 1983 and re-imaged here in visible light by the Hubble Space Telescope to reveal new details. This nebula is not well known or as popular as some of its extravagant brethren but it is as awe inspiring as any I’ve seen.
A very dark, relatively small star forming region, it’s not been well studied and was imaged by Hubble just through sheer luck during what’s called a “snapshot survey” where it was on the list of objects to be observed only on the extremely rare chance that Hubble came upon some free time. The bright upside down “V” shape origins are unknown but the current hypothesis is that the nebula may have encountered a fast moving, high velocity young star that was ejected from its forming cluster and passed through or near this structure at a speed of nearly 200,000 km/hr.
Also officially a mystery is how this nebula is being lit though honestly I’ve seen enough nebulae to where it certainly appears that there’s a bright possibly newborn star at top center cloaked behind a band of thick material and the light from that star is radiating down, lighting and perhaps blowing away the cavity we see below it. Honestly that’s just my personal observation from only having this photo as information and seeing formations similar to this, thousands of times over. Make of it what you will, sometimes these untapped objects allow for some creative thinking and that’s not a bad thing…..mostly.
NAME: IRAS 05437+2502, IRAS Ghost.
WHAT IS IT?: Reflection nebula, star forming region.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Only about 380 light years distant.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Pretty tiny at only about 1/18 of a Full Moon on the night sky.
MAGNITUDE?: Unsure of the integrated magnitude.
HOW OLD IS IT?: Unsure of age estimate.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Taurus.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 05hr 46m 51.6s / Dec +25° 03’ 45”
ESA Hubble page for this photo: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100809.html
NASA page for this photo: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1741.html
NASA APOD page for this photo: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100809.html