If you look at the stars you might expect to see a planet, star, or even the International Space Station, but this week’s Hubble picture shows something pretty unexpected: a shrimp. The picture shows the beautiful Shrimp Nebula, which is located about 6,000 light years away in the tail part of the constellation Scorpio.
Despite the size of the nebula, which stretches for 250 light years, it is rarely imaged because it is very dark and emits only a small amount of light. The stars seen appear blue-white, but in addition to this, most of the stars within the nebula emit light in other areas of the spectrum that are invisible to the human eye. Hubble images in both visible light and infrared wavelengths, so it can see more details of the beautiful dust and gas vortices.
“The Shrimp Nebula, also known as IC 4628, is an emission nebula, which means that its gas has been energized or ionized by radiation from nearby stars,” says Hubble scientist explain. “The radiation from these massive stars removes electrons from the hydrogen atoms in the nebula. When the energized electrons return from their higher energy state to a lower energy state through recombination with hydrogen nuclei, they emit energy in the form of light, which causes the gas in the nebula to glow. In this picture, red indicates the presence of ionized iron (Fe II). “
The nebula is a busy star-forming region that creates both single stars and star clusters. Between these points of light there are cavities or cavities that arise when hot stars give off stellar winds that blow away matter such as dust and gas.
To show the nebula in its full context, the Hubble scientists also released this image of the full nebula, which shows where that particular zoom-in image fits into the whole:
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