Location of Photo:
EL SAUCE OBSERVATORY, CHILE
Date/Time of photo:
Feb 2021 – Nov 2022
Planewave CDK24; FLI ProLine PL9000 (Remote Astronomy via Telescope Live)
This uncanny nebula is best suited for Halloween, so it's a bit overdue. If you tilt your head 45 degrees to the left, you should see a super creepy skull! (Hence its nickname, the "Skull and Crossbones Nebula"). Wait a minute before freaking out; it's not like the universe is trying to scare us with a creepy face. We see it because evolution shaped us to be good at face recognition, so we sometimes imagine faces even though there isn't one. Skulls aside, the nebula is made of star-forming regions where large gas clouds are giving birth to new stars. The skull's left eye is a superluminous star (HD 64455), which looks especially shiny because of the telescope's diffraction spikes. The skull's right eye is a sphere of hydrogen gas energised by a nearby star (Haffner 19). The pink-red glimmer from ionised hydrogen makes it look like the terminator's cyborg eye!