‘Witch head’ nebula brews little stars

31 Oct 2013

The Witch Head nebula. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

What resembles the head of a witch floats open-mouthed in space in a new image from US space agency NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

The infrared image has captured the Witch Head nebula, named because it looks like the profile of a green-faced wicked witch.

Massive stars are lighting up the nebula’s clouds, where baby stars are forming, NASA reported astronomers as having said.

In the image, starlight is hitting dust in the cloud, causing it to glow with infrared light, which WISE’s detectors picked up, NASA added.

The Witch Head nebula is estimated to be hundreds of light years away in the constellation named after Orion, the hunter in Greek mythology. The nebulas is nestled just off Orion’s ‘knee’.

Here’s a closer look at WISE’s image of the Witch Head nebula:

Witch Head nebula

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic