NASA spots 'jack-o'-lantern' inside deep space nebula

Pablo Tucker
November 1, 2019

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found a massive nebula in deep space that "looks like a celestial jack-o'-lantern".

The space agency that consistently brings us tons of unbelievable space news and astronaut breakthroughs recently released the image of the galactic collision, which was taken on June 19 of this year by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The massive star is about 15 to 20 times heavier than the Sun, and is likely responsible for sculpting this cosmic pumpkin. Based on the new image provided by Spitzer, a nebula closely resembles a hollowed-out pumpkin with a candle inside. Green and red hues show light emitted mainly by dust radiating at various temperatures, and the combination of green and red results in yellow hues.

In a higher-contrast image, however, the orange and green create an orange tone ideal for Halloween. The blue colour represents a wavelength mostly emitted by stars and some very hot regions of the nebula, while white coloured regions indicate where the objects are bright in all three colours.

NASA posted the image with a caption: "No, that's not a fiery jack-o'-lantern". Together, the red and green wavelengths create an orange hue. Hubble is looking at a titanic head-on collision between two galaxies.Credit: In this new Hubble Space Telescope image, an uncanny pair of glowing eyes glares menacingly in our direction. They also counted protostars - infant stars still swaddled in the dense dust clouds in which they were born. Researchers have analyzed star formation in this region to determine how star and planet formation compares with other regions of the Milky Way. "Each "eye" is the bright core of a galaxy, one of which slammed into another", NASA explained on its website. The crash pulled and stretched the galaxies' disks of gas, dust, and stars outward. But this face won't be here forever - this ring structure which formed the space will be here for around 100 million years.

Hubble observed this unique system as part of a "snapshot" program that takes advantage of occasional gaps in the telescope's observing schedule to squeeze in additional pictures.

The objective is to order a strong example of close by interfacing cosmic systems, which could offer knowledge into how universes developed after some time through galactic mergers. It could also point astronomers toward targets worth pursuing once NASA's James Webb Space Telescope comes online in the early 2020s.

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