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Spooky Astronomy, part 2

Another Halloween is upon us and that means it’s time for some… [spooky voice] Haunted Astronomical Imagery!

Consider, if you will, the Helix Nebula…

Helix Nebula
Credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), and T.A. Rector (NRAO)

….which hides a zombie at its core, visible when the nebula is viewed in the infrared.

Zombie Helix Nebula
Credit: NASA, JPL, and K. Su

Or this ghostly shape haunting the Pleiades:

Ghostly Reflections in the Pleiades
Image Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Ok, it’s not really a ghost – it’s really the eerie, wispy tendrils of a dark interstellar cloud being destroyed by the passage of one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades star cluster. This reflection nebulae is the result of light from the star reflecting off the surface of pitch black clouds of cold gas laced with dust.

If that didn’t scare you, perhaps this screaming monkey head will…

Star Formation Region DR 6
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/S. Carey (Caltech)

The “Screaming Monkey Head” is actually star-forming region DR6. We can’t credit for naming it the Screaming Monkey Head nebula either – that honor goes to Phil Plait from the Bad Astronomy blog.

Last Halloween we posted a bunch of spooky astronomical images. In searching for new ones for this year, we found that Phil had already put together a whole gallery of images. Check it out for more astronomical “terror”… if you dare.

Here are the images you might have missed from last year’s Halloween entry – a skull, a witch, a ghost, and the Eye of Sauron!

The Perseus Cluster's X-Ray Skull
Credit:A. Fabian (IoA Cambridge) et al., NASA

This screaming skull above is actually a Chandra image of the Perseus Cluster of galaxies in x-rays.

The Witch Head Nebula:

The Witch Head Nebula
Credit: NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni

How about a great glowing eye in the sky? (Also a planetary nebula…)

The Glowing Eye of NGC 6751

Extrasolar planetary system, or Eye of Sauron?

The Fomalhaut System
Credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley)

You’re not afraid of (space) ghosts, right? This is nebula SH2 136.

SH2 136: A Spooky Nebula
Credit: Adam Block, NOAO, AURA, NSF

When you’re done with trick-or-treating, or maybe while you’re out and about, be sure to look up at the night sky! You never know what might be lurking above!

1 Comment

  • Chris says:

    The first one is absolutley amazing, it’s the best of the lot, I love the colours, but they all look stunning! :)

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