See an Unearthly Screaming Jack-O-Lantern Nebula the NASA Spitzer Telescope Just Spotted For Halloween

Thursday, 31 October 2019 - 1:05PM
Space
Space Imagery
Thursday, 31 October 2019 - 1:05PM
See an Unearthly Screaming Jack-O-Lantern Nebula the NASA Spitzer Telescope Just Spotted For Halloween
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Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope caught a glimpse of a "jack-o-lantern nebula" frozen in an eerie scream just in time for Halloween.


The Spitzer Space Telescope is part of NASA's Great Observatories Program, along with the well-known Hubble Telescope, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Since its launch in 2003, it has given us many of our most famous space images including the Cat's Paw Nebula and the Rosebud Nebula.


The Jack-O-Lantern nebula is the hollow wreckage left behind in the wake of a massive O-type star that's 15-20 times heavier than our Sun. Scientists suspect that this star's radiation and stellar winds swept through the nebula, gouging the holes that created the unmistakable pumpkin grin.





Spitzer detects infrared radiation which is invisible to the human eye and often manifests itself as heat. The brighter the object, the more heat it gives off and vice versa. These temperatures also correspond to different color wavelengths. To create this image, scientists toyed with the controls to dial up green and red, which combined to create the vivid orange hue. In this picture, the blue wavelengths correspond to superheated areas and stars, while white light indicates an area that is strong across all infrared and color wavelengths. You can just make out the O-type star as a white spot in the center of a red core before the colors are adjusted.


This data was discovered by accident during a study on early star development on the fringes of our galaxy, which doesn't play by the rules: there are fewer clouds of stellar gas and dust in the area, and they indicate lower levels of star-forming, life-giving elements that could impact what lies at the edge of our galaxy – including the possibility of more planets like ours.
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NASA
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