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Witch Head Nebula

An infrared portrait of the Witch Head nebula from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows billowy clouds where new stars are brewing.

'Witch Head' Brews Baby Stars

A witch appears to be screaming out into space in this new image from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The infrared portrait shows the Witch Head nebula, named after its resemblance to the profile of a wicked witch. Astronomers say the billowy clouds of the nebula, where baby stars are brewing, are being lit up by massive stars. Dust in the cloud is being hit with starlight, causing it to glow with infrared light, which was picked up by WISE's detectors.

The Witch Head nebula is estimated to be hundreds of light-years away in the Orion constellation, just off the famous hunter's knee.

WISE was recently "awakened" to hunt for asteroids in a program called NEOWISE. The reactivation came after the spacecraft was put into hibernation in 2011, when it completed two full scans of the sky, as planned.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team



-About the Object-
Name: Witch Head Nebula (IC 2118)
Type: Nebula > Star Formation

Distance: 1,000 light-years

-About the Image-
Position of the Object: RA=05h 04m 55s; Dec=-07 15 56
Constellation: Eridanus and Orion

Orientation: North is straight down

Color Mapping: Blue=3.4 microns; Cyan=4.6 microns; Green=12 microns; Red=22 microns

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Last updated 10/30/13 © UC Regents